So you have some video, vodcasts, webisodes that you think others might like to download, or you're creating a video podcast and want to get some new distribution channels… well one of the obvious choices for that is iTunes. But how do you go about getting your video listed?
First, of course, you need that all important content in the proper format. For iTunes this includes .mov, .m4v and .mp4 so you'll need to be sure you have your content in a ready-to-use state for the iPods out in the world. Secondly you will have to have that content on a publicly accessible server as iTunes won't host it for you. So you need some online storage location or your own website where you can put the files.
Once the file is created and online then you will need to create an RSS feed in XML that is fully compliant with RSS 2.0 specifications. It will need the recommended iTunes tags and will also have to be posted on your server. Finally you submit the RSS feed to iTunes. Sounds easy right? Let's look at the submission procedure though.
iTunes is driven by metadata and so in order to get your videos properly listed and found by users you need the best metadata that you can create for your content. Some of the most important tags in your RSS feed include the <channel> level title, author, description and keywords. When combined with a thumbnail it becomes the information that potential viewers will see and decide on. Good informative titles are necessary. If you write "The Podcast series" viewers will not know what the series is about. If your title is "The Video SEO Podcast Series" then you would be more likely to get viewers as they will know the specific content.
The iTunes specific tags in the RSS are also important as they inform iTunes about specific information for your content. The <itunes:summary> tag gives you the opportunity to briefly describe what is in your content, the media format, scheduling, and more so viewers know what to expect if they subscribe. Make sure that the words in the keywords tag or in the <itunes:keywords> tags are relevant to your content, if it is not iTunes will delist your feed. Also be sure to build those keywords into the description. iTunes states,
"The best use for keywords is to include common misspellings of your name or title, to ensure your podcast is still searchable despite a misspelling. To prevent keyword abuse, iTunes indexes only the first 12 keywords found in this tag.”
Another of the important iTunes specific tags is the <itunes:category> tag which helps your feed show up in multiple places in iTunes. By utilizing this, your feed will have a higher chance of being found and subscribed to by users.
Finally you will need a thumbnail, a 50×50 graphic to represent your feed and content. A simple image and a couple words would be best. Do research and see what the popular ones use to get some ideas if you are not creatively inclined.
All of this information must be constantly maintained. Once a viewer subscribes to your feed they will no longer be getting information from iTunes Store and so will only know about the changes and updates to your feed from your RSS file, so don't drop the ball there and keep it updating. Always test your feed and make sure it works properly before submitting it to iTunes.
Once you are all set it's time to submit that content. Fire up the iTunes client and navigate to the iTunes Store Podcast area. Under the Learn More box there is a Submit a Podcast link. When you submit your feed it will pull in your metadata and iTunes specific tags, so check it over carefully. Once submitted your feed will go through the submission queue and be approved or denied by the iTunes staff.
Some reasons for denial include:
- Technical problems
- Requirement of a login or password to access the feed.
- Strong prevalence of sexual content.
- Use of explicit language in the title or description of the podcast.
- Use of explicit language in the podcast when the
<explicit>tag is not set to "yes”.
- Apparent misuse of copyrighted material or other violation of third party rights.
- Inclusion of offensive material, such as racist content or child pornography.
- Misrepresentation use of Apple copyright, including "iPod" and "iTunes.”
Play by the rules and your video content should be approved and available in no time.
Be sure your content is fully compatible with iPod and iPhone by using one of the following codecs:
- H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 x 480, 30 frames per sec., Low-Complexity version of the Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 kbps, 48 KHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
- H.264 video, up to 768 kbps, 320 x 240, 30 frames per sec., Baseline Profile up to Level 1.3 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 kbps, 48 KHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
- MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 x 480, 30 frames per sec., Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 kbps, 48 KHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
For a complete listing of iTunes specific tags, format options and submission information check out the iTunes store, where you can get all the information you need to make sure your video content is successful on iTunes.
Good luck video podcasting, vodcasting, or whatever you want to call it.