Podcasting is one of the fastest-growing mediums to date. Especially thanks to the pandemic, the podcast industry has experienced growth at a break-neck speed. Each week, the number of Americans who listen to podcasts tops the number of those who have Netflix accounts.
It is important to note that most media hosts for podcasts are not podcast-specific analytic tools. A host site is just where MP3s are uploaded and synced with distribution platforms such as Apple and Spotify. These sites have a few analytic tools for creators, but because they are not built to be stand-alone analytic tools, they often fall short in that department.
However, armed with knowledge and gumption, podcast hosts are able to utilize these tools to accurately measure content performance.
To understand how to measure podcast analytics, it is important to note the difference between streaming and downloading. Contrary to popular belief, it is not actually possible to “stream” a podcast. Once a podcast file is downloaded off the host server, said server then has no way to measure how much of the podcast was consumed or if it was listened to at all.
Nonetheless, it is important to keep track of the number of downloads each podcast episode gets. While using the tools you have on hand, measuring the consistency of download totals between each episode is one of the best ways to understand the size of your subscriber base.
While the number of times a podcast has been downloaded may not be the perfect measuring tool, it is a close enough approximation to still be worth tracking.
The IAB Measurement Guidelines have standard metrics and technical specifications that regulate podcast measurement and eliminate all forms of analytics discrepancies.
These improvements also include new advanced filtering techniques to weed out bots and scrapers. So, if any users see a drop in their reported stats, that is because we are now ensuring that we only report on actual downloads and plays; no spam or bot accounts are allowed.
Following recommendations from the IAB, podcasters should try to find hosting sites that specialize in “unique downloads” that measure the size of the audience listening to the podcast.
According to IAB guidelines, “a unique download represents a media file that is progressively downloaded (not streamed) using a specific user-agent from a specific IP address, all within a 24-hour window.”
IAB reiterates that in the absence of exact subscriber data, paying attention to the consistency of download rates per episode is the best way to quantify the size of a podcast’s subscriber base.
There are many ways other than counting downloads to measure the success of a podcast. Other metrics may be a bit more subjective, such as social engagement, relationship building, and reviews. In the podcast industry, qualitative data is just as important as quantitative.
The relationship between the podcaster and their listeners is a wonderful way to easily measure success and engagement with the content. Ways to measure audience relationships include the number of subscribers, listens/downloads, and engagement on the podcasting host site; as well as on social media, including likes, comments, and shares.
The best way to measure how much your listener base is growing is to pay attention to the percentage of subscribers over time, any change in downloads, and the number of visits to the podcast’s specific page.
Relevant metrics that podcasters should pay attention to include unique downloads, types of apps and devices that listens come from, as well as the audience’s age, gender, and geographic location.
Knowing what countries and cities your podcast are most popular in is a great way to find out where to focus your marketing efforts. This location-based breakdown of your audience can also be helpful when planning live tours.
Other analytics are included, but are not limited to the total listened-to time of each episode, and what percent of the audience testimonials, and recommendations on different social media platforms and the podcast-specific website.
Recommendations are the highest form of flattery and also a great way to engage with user feedback. It is important to note what listeners do and do not like to create better, more enjoyable content.
While there may be obstacles to accurately measuring all analytics, podcasters can use what tools they do have to learn more about their audience and what they like. Information used to measure a podcast’s success can come from a lot of different avenues. Content creators must take the reigns and use all the tools afforded to them.