Opinion

Cracking the podcasting metrics vault could unlock billions

A new player in the podcast sphere is offering access to audience measurement via the Apple Podcasts app, which might be the game-changer the industry needs, says Brooke McAlary.

For too long Apple has been a major force in stifling the growth of podcasting.

Brooke McAlary - jackrabbit fm

Don’t get me wrong, Apple basically put podcasting on the map. Podcasting will be intrinsically linked to Apple as it was the June 2005 iTunes update that added podcasts to the iTunes Music Store, meaning that iTunes users could subscribe to, download and organise podcasts.

Even the word podcast, first coined by tech author Ben Hammersley, is a derivative of Apple’s ‘ipod’ and the term ‘broadcast.’

While being a huge factor in the continued growth of podcasting, on the other hand Apple has been a major force in holding the medium back, and has prevented it from being valued as medium worthy of brands and advertises money because it has held listener metrics tighter than a Gringotts vault, much to the frustration of the otherwise flourishing format.apple podcast home page screen shot

What this has meant for the millions of podcast content producers (and their advertisers) is that they have had limited audience data to track the success, or otherwise, of their investment.  

Podcasts are the only part of the iTunes store where Apple doesn’t host the content (this is done through third party hosting providers), as the podcasts don’t sit within the integrated Apple monolith they haven’t had the same incentive to publicly release metrics in the same way they do for their music and movie sections.

Podcast networks have had to handle their own analytics tell rudimentary stories to advertisers due to limited metrics. It’s a tricky game because no matter how good your story is it is messed up by the iTunes black box which holds metrics about everyone’s shows that neither producers nor distributors can see.

Recently third party hosting provider Omny announced that it had a new way of gathering podcast measurement via the Apple Podcasts app.

Building upon existing download analytics for all podcast downloads and consumption analytics for widgets and web plays, Omny can now track and report consumption data insights from around 30% of the streams from Apple’s Podcast app, and will release this functionality to its clients later this year.

This essentially provides data of how listeners skip and drop-off from a percentage of Apple Podcasts streaming listeners. It’s a game changer because content producers and advertisers are going to be able to see if a podcast is actually listened to.

With Apple commanding 80% of the podcast market, the metrics are pure gold for podcast producers seeking to quantify their programs to lure sponsorship and further grow their audience with more granular data on actual listenership.International Podcast Day logo

It’s also a huge win for advertisers who will be able to demand ‘download’ and ‘actual’ listening statistics from podcast producers. The ABC is hosting a podcast conference in Sydney on September 30, to coincide with coincide with International Podcast Day that will cover the helpers and hindrances to making money from podcasting.

Podcast advertising in the US was said to be worth around $34 million in 2015. By comparison in 2015 advertisers spent $17.6 billion on radio. The impact that the unlocking of Apple’s metrics vault will have on the marketing budgets of brands and ad agencies alike has the potential drastically disrupt the advertising industry as we know it.

Brooke McAlary is owner of Jackrabbit.FM one of Australia’s largest independent podcast networks www.jackrabbit.FM

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