Late last week, during Apple’s Friday WWDC talk covering their podcast sector, a seemingly unassuming tweak was announced. Yet it’s perhaps the biggest revelation the podcast world has ever seen. Apple is making in-episode analytics available to podcasters on its platform.
Since Apple’s podcast app is the entry point for everyone on an iPhone, they have the largest chunk of podcast real estate (somewhere upwards of sixty percent) in what is a booming business. For years, they’ve offered creators nothing but the number of times a podcast has been downloaded — no info on who listened to it, how far they got into it before turning it off, or how many ads they listened to. That’s all over.
In short, when the fall’s iOS 11 update debuts, the data dark ages will be over for the podcast industry. Here’s what that means.
It’s Good News Overall
The bottom line: This is good. More data means that the podcasts that are working well, with engaging content and sticky advertising, will be obvious, and can more easily garner the attention they deserve. Similarly, any podcasts that aren’t up to snuff can be more confidently ignored. In the short term, this likely means a downsizing, as the latest industry analysis from Hot Pod explains:
“Many believe that an ecosystem-wide audience resizing is on the cards. Because the vast majority of podcast audience appraisal is conducted based on downloads — and because we don’t actually know what happens to an episode after it’s downloaded — the way podcast audiences are represented, understood, and sold is almost certainly going to change. Just about everyone I spoke to frames this in terms of some form of downsizing, which makes intuitive sense, because there will always be some percentage of episodes being downloaded that are left unlistened (and ads left unserved). But the positive spin I'm given is that this change nevertheless comes with a higher level of accountability, and the gains in trust from advertisers will likely lead to much greater gains over the long term.”
But the End of an Era
For some, the news is bittersweet: Though inevitable, the additional of new data will likely feed a capitalistic approach towards a company’s bottom line that couldn’t easily thrive before. Gone are the carefree days of uploading a podcast without wondering how many impressions an ad would get, and the more nostalgic among us will certainly miss them.
On the other hand, the more nostalgic among us are always missing something.
Stuart Last, COO of audioBoom, had this to say on the news:
“Apple’s update is going to help advertisers trust podcasting as a medium and bring brand advertisers into the space. We've all been telling them for several years through our own research that podcast audiences are hearing their ads and buying products as a result. Direct response advertisers can track performance, so they've been happy to spend money on podcast ads. But brand advertisers have been wary – unable to see if the audience is listening to episodes they download, or if they stop listening to an episode before an ad appears. Now, they should have the confidence to be in podcasting.”
Companies like audioBoom, which helps brands reach their target podcast audience, will have to adjust to the new reality, but can now move forward with more of the data they need. The years of podcast ad Kremlinology are over.