Mark Ramsey at Hear 2.0 has an interesting post on Google's new "Ad Creation Marketplace". Google is accepting applications from "audio ad specialists" to create a searchable directory of professionals "to help AdWords advertisers to create radio advertisements".
Although AdWords for Audio has the potential to dramatically mature podcast monetization, there are difficult issues to address: How would ads be targetted? By channel, like existing RSS ad networks Feedburner and Pheedo? Or contextually using speech-to-text conversion? How would the ads be sold? CPM? Cost per acquisition in conjunction with pay-per-call?
Here's where I'd place my bets: AdWords for Audio will release without support for podcasts. Google's timeline is already rumored to have slipped a couple of months. Why deal with the headache of supporting podcasts when the money in the offline radio market is orders of magnitude larger than the money in podcasting? Support for podcasting will come -- but it will be months down the road. My guess is that Google won't offer ads in offline podcasts -- instead, they'll make a Flash mp3 player available, so that podcasters can monetize listeners that consume their podcast in-browser. The mp3 player will include a text or image ad related to the audio ads, so that listeners can immediately take action on the ad that they hear. Ads will be targetted contextually against the website on which the audio is embedded -- not against the audio itself. This allows Google to play to all their strength -- deep analytics, existing click-fraud protection, the existing pay-per-click pricing model and the existing AdSense contextualization technology.
So is AdWords for Audio good for podcasters? Absolutely. Is it a short-term fix for podcast monetization? I wouldn't balance my checkbook on it.