Call me a skeptic — about podcasting anyway.

When I was interviewed for a recent article in WhitePaperSource Newsletter about the podcasting “craze,” I simply couldn’t bring myself to hop on the hype and celebrate all the wonderful marketing possibilities. I felt like a reality check might be more useful at this point. As I noted in my comments:

The operative word is craze. Gartner, the influential IT research firm, talks about the concept of a “hype cycle.” From that perspective, podcasting is now experiencing what they call the “peak of inflated expectations.” It’s easy to grow from a small base, but the expectations are simply too high. What’s next? Right on cue, podcasting will fall into the “trough of disillusionment” when it fails to meet all these unrealistic expectations. Fortunately, it will probably find a sensible place in the marketing mix and rise back up as a productive tool.

Marketers, as I see it, need to take a sensible perspective toward iPods and other media such as blogs, wikis and whatever. As I explained in that piece:

Smart marketers will recognize that podcasting is merely one stock — or security — within the marketing portfolio. Assuming that podcasting matches the needs and interests of the targeted audience, they will manage it with discipline as part of the portfolio. They will watch it, measure it and determine how much attention it truly deserves. My concern is that podcasting is a slow, linear, plodding medium in an era of dynamic, non-linear, hyper-linked learning and knowledge acquisition. I think of it as “plodcasting” at this point. If podcasting is to become truly valuable, then we are going to need better and faster ways of navigating the audio content in order to find what we need.

Podcasting is generally too boring as it is. Few marketers are pulling it off — and, as I said, I am not sure it can be pulled off in the absence of better content navigation.

I’m not sure at all that podcasting matches the preferences and priorities of the target — whether that’s a prospect, customer, analyst, journalist or stockholder. Without the context of a specific situation, it’s impossible to say how valuable podcasting is — or isn’t.

One thing I do know is that this temporal obsession with a particular medium — one day it’s search, next it’s blogs, then it’s podcasting — suggests a certain immaturity and drift toward attention deficit disorder among those who get caught up in the hype.

If we are to be successful in the complex, ever-changing arena of B2B marketing, we need to step back and keep our cool.