Do podcasts need a content ratings system? I never considered this question before speaking yesterday with the folks from Podtrac, a podcast ad network that launched this week.
Podrac, which has teamed up with video and audio podcasts including TWiT, Channel Federator, and of course, FrenchMaid TV, thinks advertisers and companies want ratings to make them more comfortable with marketing in the new world of podasts.
So, the company's founder, Mark McCrery, called the MPAA and asked if Podtrac could use their rating system, which is made up of a panel of anonymous raters. I love that story. McCrery says he never expected them to agree, but figured he would try before he went out and created his own rating system.
Instead, the company created a dual pronged system that relies on the podcast community. First, a podcaster rates his shows. Then the audience can weigh in if they disagree with the rating. If so, the podcaster is asked to rerate the content. "Podcasting is all about letting anyone develop content and putting it out there, so to have a panel approach is untenable," says McCrery.
I still don't know if the ratings system is necessary. I don't know the history of the ratings system, but I don't think it was created for advertisers. However, if one does come into being, I think it makes more sense that the community is part of the ratings scheme, because it better reflects the reality of the world.