Wikipedia defines "podcasting" as:
"a portmanteau of Apple's "iPod" and "broadcasting", is a method of publishing files to the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed and receive new files automatically by subscription, usually at no cost. It first became popular in late 2004, used largely for audio files."
(Now who's got a definition of "portmanteau?" )
The popular viral podcast series "Ask A Ninja" (or AAN) likens podcasting to a method for apple pie factories to produce apple pie for whales.
But seriously, we all know that whales have no use for apple pie (believe me, drop an apple pie in the ocean and it is no longer an American classic -- unless you're a ninja). But the ninja's wisdom stands in this regard:
1. The television is a wooden box. At one time this wooden box was a great way to advertise because we in the West spent a lot of time in front of this box. We still spend (in my opinion) far too much time in front of this box, but we are increasingly spending more time in front of smaller, plastic boxes and screens connected to the Internet. The Internet (or Interweb, Webernet or "Internets") does a lot more for the whale human than the wooden box could. The Webernets allows the people to experience different types of -pie- media and control how that media is digested. When (whenever you want), where (at your home computer, in a wireless hotspot, on an mp3 player at the gym) and how often.
2. The whales humans are constantly barraged with content and marketing messages everywhere, and especially on the Interwebs. This "seaweed" "noise" is very easy to ignore as the human surfs the waves of the Weberweb as after a while it all looks the same...banner ad, PPC ad, email spam, "Buy Me Now," pop up window, 404 not found, Click Britney and win a free iPod... They've been eating seaweed all their lives (these humans) , but once they sniff out something that's unique, and tasty and useful...you get their attention, like apple pie. WHOA!
3. Then people discover that this -pie- content is pumped out on a consistent basis. They can depend on the factory dudes responsible for this podcast content to cook it up for you constantly, but in slightly different flavors to keep them coming back for more.
What the Ninja didn't explain is how this can help your brand stay forefront in your feeders' minds (and ears) and build a long-term, positive association with your company and products -- even if you're not talking about your products all the time.
Humor has worked well for Ask A Ninja, and many traditional brands will try to follow suit with humorous viral campaigns that may or may not work. (Here are 10 tips for podcasting like the Ninja). But if you're thinking of doing your own ecommerce podcast, don't feel like it has to be funny or appealing to the MySpace crowd. The key is to make your apple pie something WORTH eating (subscribing to) and then following a consistent publishing schedule whether your content is humorous or informational. And even better is to direct your podcast listeners to a community area where they can continue to discuss the podcast or contribute their own content (tips, questions, video responses and so on).
For example, a sports equipment store could show sports bloopers (funny), recap professional sports games (current / informational), produce live sportscasts or interview athletes (or fans). The online community component could be a fantasy sports pool with "Trash Talk" forum, and discount coupons for your estore to weekly and monthly points leaders.
Or you could do like Toshiba and wait till something else goes viral and then just sponsor it.
I think the Ninja series has some better episodes than this one, I recommend Ninja Mythbusters and Pirates of the Carribbean episodes if you want to be a bit less productive at work to day (or relieve a little stress!)