It’s common to hear public figures verbalize hashtags and prounounce social media handles during audio broadcasts. Domain names are in many ways the forebearer of these devices, but nevertheless it’s a bit jarring to hear them uttered in the same way:

“Welcome to Effectively Wild, a baseball podcast from fangraphs dot com”

“I’m Chris Ryan of the ringer dot com”

This can’t be a coincidence, as I’ve heard it on several different shows.  When the podcast host gives the name of of the media outlet, they’ll add “dot com” to the end of the company name.

You might be asking youself why this is noteworthy.  To contextualize, imagine a friend telling you to go “google dot com” to search for the name of a restaurant.  The “dot com” is superfluous, as anybody familiar with Google knows how to locate the service.

In case you were wondering, none of the media companies in these examples include the “dot com” in their branding.  They’re known simply as FanGraphs, The Ringer etc., so it’s not that by saying “dot com,” the host is dutifully giving the complete name.

Let’s start with the premise that the podcast producer is making a conscious attempt to have the listener visit the URL stated by the host.  A few questions follow:

Why does it matter if the listener goes to the company’s website, instead of locating their content via some other means?

The vast majority of downloads and streams occur via Apple Podcasts and other, similar apps.  The downloader in this scenario has no need to visit any particular website.

Advertising space on podcasts and on websites are separate products.  To maximize the reach of both and therefore their appeal to advertisers, the content producer should take steps to ensure its users are listening to podcasts and visiting the website.

It’s not enough just to convince the podcast listener to also view your content online.  The content creator must also drive traffic to their website, where each visitor generates significantly more revenue than one that interacts with the content via third-party platforms such as Facebook.

Is the host actually revealing the website URL to any listeners, or did all of them already know it?

You can’t be too sure.  If we’re talking about people familiar with the brand that regularly input URLs to access websites, then the answer is probably “yes.”  When the listener doesn’t meet both criteria, stating the domain name can be helpful.

If the listener has stumbled upon a podcast that is published by a media company with a diverse offering, they might mistakenly assume that podcasts are the main product.  This user wouldn’t know the URL and could use some encouragement to visit the website.

Strange as it may seem, a growing percentage of internet users don’t rely on the URL bar on a web browser, instead preferring Google or (sigh) searching the company on Facebook.  To be sure these users arrive to the right place, saying the URL is a good idea.

This reminds me of the 90s when every new company was “something dot com.”  Doesn’t this make the media companies seem a bit dated?

Yes and no.  During the dot-com bubble, identifying your brand by the domain name was new and cool.  The novelty has worn off over the years and this practice has faded over the years.

Still, domain names are used more than ever, so it’s not as if giving a URL immediately dates the brand.  In a scenario where the content creator has a financial incentive not only to gain new users, but also to have these users go straight to the website, the “spoken dot com” is ripe for a comeback.