What Apple's New Podcast Analytics Tool Tells Us

Photo Credit:  LoKan Sardari  Flickr via  Compfight   CC

Photo Credit: LoKan Sardari Flickr via Compfight CC

Welcome to The Yard, a blog by Backyard Media that explains the podcast industry and podcast advertising.

This is Part 1 of a two-part post about Apple's new Podcast Analytics tool.

One thing sponsors and creators who are new to the podcasting space sometimes notice is that despite the medium's explosive popularity in the past five to ten years, the metrics by which we measure podcast consumption still aren't as advanced as we'd like. In 2018, we still primarily gauge a show's growth and popularity on its podcast download numbers - how many times a user requested a podcast episode file from iTunes, Google Play, or another app. But once that download occurs, we're blind as to what exactly happens. Did the listener consume the entire episode? Did they listen to five minutes and stop? Did they hear all of the ads? Podcasters have been yearning for a technology that would answer these questions.

Apple, still the biggest platform for podcast listening, has promised to improve its technology to provide more information about listener behavior. At the end of 2017, the company released its beta version of the new Podcast Analytics. This provides podcasters with more precise information about their listeners' habits. Let's break down what this technology tells us so far, and what podcasters and sponsors might take away from it.



How many listeners complete the entire episode, and how many fall off?

Credit:  Sarah Perez  (TechCrunch)

Credit: Sarah Perez (TechCrunch)

The most important new information that the Analytics beta gives podcasters is aggregated data about how many listeners complete an episode. We know from self-report studies that most podcast listeners complete or consume the majority of every episode they start. But Apple's Analytics allows us to see exactly when listeners stopped listening to an episode. Was it within the first few minutes? Or was there a noticeable drop off at 50 minutes, when most people are finishing their commute? Or was the listening consistent throughout?

This data, shown graphically in the tool (see photo), allows podcasters to see trends in this drop-off at different points of the episode. By comparing this data against the content of the episode, podcasters can deduce what caused listeners to fall off - a content segment change or one that ran too long, a sound that ended up being too jarring, or an ad that didn't work with the audience.

This data is also episode-specific, so podcasters can draw more specific conclusions based on an episodes particular content. This is especially helpful if they are trying something new, or if they want to compare drop-off trends across multiple episodes of the same format.


Do listeners skip certain sections of an episode?

The beta tool also gives information about "average consumption" and "time played". These two data points, when compared against the episode's length, can tell podcasters if listeners are skipping around the podcast or listening without hitting fast forward. Reasons skipping might be a long host introduction or because of of the show's ads didn't click with the audience.

Also available is the percentage of devices subscribed to the podcast feed. Meaning that, of those devices that have played the episode, are listeners downloading the episode manually, or are they regular subscribers? Having a higher percentage of manual downloads indicates an active interest in the content of that episode and a higher likelihood of completing it. Conversely, having a high subscribed percentage in conjunction with high marks in the other consumption metrics indicates a loyal listener base that tunes in every week. As you can see, the more we dig into these ways of measuring consumption and how they interplay with one another, the more complex our understanding of an audience becomes.


Why podcasters and podcast advertisers need this tool

Podcasters need better tools to understand their audience. Other online media like YouTube videos have detailed statistics about listener behavior. Combining podcasting's selling points of having a highly engaged listener base with this new data from Apple will allow podcasters to prove that yes, podcasting is the most engaging and powerful online medium out there today. And with episode-specific data, pricing for podcast ads can be even more specific, and sponsors will be able to know with absolute clarity just how many listeners heard to their ad in a specific episode. Sponsors will be able to better plan their ad campaigns and measure the ROI of their podcast ads.

Next week, in Part 2 of this story, we'll dive into what publishers are seeing in their data now that Apple's Analytics tool has been live for almost two months.

Read Part 2 here.


Do you want to get in on the ground floor of advertising on podcasts, the highest ROI digital medium out there today? Contact us to learn how easy it is to get started advertising with Backyard Media.

Backyard Media is a marketplace for podcast advertising. We connect content creators of all shapes and sizes with awesome sponsors, providing them with the resources they need to do what they do best. Everyone wins.

Take a look at some of our related content below: