Want to Monetize Your Podcast? First, You've Got to Track Your Downloads

 
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You're reading a post from Backyard Media's Podcasting 101, a series of guides meant to explain podcasting and podcast advertising to new and current podcast creators. To see our other guides, click here.

If you're a podcast creator, you need to know how many people are listening to your show. Otherwise known as tracking your podcast's downloads, this process is essential for any creator who wants to monetize their podcast and building a self-sustaining show. But podcast tracking and download statistics can be confusing, and there isn't a single Google-like service for tracking podcasts. So here's a guide on tracking your podcast downloads: why you need to do it, the services you can use, and how to set your service up.

 

Why is it important that I track my downloads?

Tracking how many downloads your podcast gets is crucial to understanding your audience, but it's also a must-have for creators who want to monetize their podcast by attracting high-quality podcast sponsors. These advertisers want to see data about how many downloads an average episode of your podcast receives. From our previous guide on podcast sponsorship rates, we provided a list of nine best practices for creators who want to present their show to sponsors. On that list was the necessity for good download numbers:

6. Have podcast metrics to demonstrate actual download numbers for your episodes. Advertisers want to see data that shows your podcast can actually draw in 20, 50, or 75,000 downloads per episode.
— "A Podcaster's Guide to Podcast Sponsorship Rates"

A healthy average number of downloads per episode will serve as the baseline for any conversation with a potential sponsor. This information helps the sponsor estimate how many listeners they will reach, what percentage of them might convert, and how much they will pay for the advertising partnership. For more on how podcast sponsorship rates and pricing work, see our guide here.

 

What services can I use to track downloads?

The good news is that there are a number of services out there to track your downloads. Some of them are even free! The most common tracking services are below. Once you've picked a service, take a look at our next section for a step-by-step guide to using each service.

Podtrac. Podtrac is a free measurement service that has been a standard, easy way to measure downloads of any existing podcast RSS feed. While other services are often also media hosts, Podtrac is a lightweight add-on that can attach to any feed and give you basic information about your download statistics.

To get started with Podtrac, click here to see the setup process.

Libsyn. If you use Libsyn as your media hosting platform, you may already have access to download statistics for your podcast. Libsyn offers two types of statistics, Basic and Advanced, but the statistics you get depends on the plan you purchase. Basic statistics start at the $7 and $15 plan level, and they show your show’s downloads by day, month, and year, and downloads by individual episode. Advanced statistics start at the $20 plan level, and include additional information about downloads by geographic location, which podcast app downloaded the file, and what websites are referring to your podcast. You can download download reports with Libsyn's tracking tool to see downloads over a set period of time.

If you're a current Libsyn user and want to see your statistics, click here to see how to access them.

Blubrry. Blubrry is another one of the largest podcast hosts out there. If you use Blubrry to host your podcast, you automatically get a set of basic tracking tools for your podcast. Blubrry's basic statistics plan shows the total number and unique number of downloads, the operating systems and podcatcher services most used to download the file, the distribution of downloads across days and months, and the geography of your downloads.

If you're a current Blubrry user and want to see your statistics, click here to see how to access them.

Apple Podcast Analytics Tool. If your podcast is already on Apple Podcasts (which it should be), you can use the in-built Podcasts Connect Analytics tool to see a dashboard full of data. This tool excels in showing granular data about the consumption rate of your particular episodes. They show the average amount of a podcast episode that listeners consumed, how many average minutes were listened to, and how many devices downloaded the podcast (your unique downloads). Note that this information is still limited; it only involves listeners who downloaded your podcast through the iOS Podcast app (on an Apple product with iOS 11 or later). Thus it should not be relied upon as your only source for tracked downloads.

To see your Analytics on the Apple "Podcasts Connect" site, click here to see how to access them.

 

How to set up download tracking with Podtrac, Libsyn, Blubrry, or Apple Podcasts

How to get started on Podtrac:

  1. Go to Podtrac's sign-up page for podcast creators to read about the features (or go straight to the podcast registration page).
  2. Fill out the registration page with your personal and podcast information
  3. Click "Add a Show"
  4. Paste your podcast's RSS feed into the field - this will be the URL from your podcast's website or wherever you post your final podcast file. If you are unsure where this URL is on your podcast's website, you can go straight to your Apple Podcasts settings and copy the feed URL you are sending to Apple.
  5. Click on "Add Show" - you've created a Podtrac account. Now, you need to enable the Measurement Service.
  6. From the "Show Info" page, click on "Measurement Service" on the left hand side.
  7. Follow the instructions for adding the "Podcast Prefix" to your new podcast episodes (use #3 on the list). The process for doing this depends on your podcast host - for most people who use Libsyn or Blubrry, the process is as easy as emailing customer support for those services asking that the prefix " http://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/ " be added to every new episode in your RSS feed.

How to see your statistics on Libsyn:

  1. Login to your Libsyn account.
  2. Click on the "Stats" icon with the bar graph image on your dashboard.
  3. Here you can see the number of unique downloads per episode and the total downloads for your entire podcast across all episodes. You can click CSV/PDF to download a file showing these download numbers.
  4. You can also use the Calendar function to look at downloads received during a particular date range. Set the start and end date, and then hit RUN.

How to see your statistics on Blubrry:

  1. Login to your Blubrry account.
  2. Click on the "Podcaster Dashboard".
  3. Click on "Podcast Statistics" on the right hand side of the page. To run printable/PDF reports, you can hi
  4. Here you can see the total number of unique downloads for your podcast. Below is each episode file and the number of downloads that each episode has received. To the left, you can look at downlaods that occured within a particular month (under History), at day-to-day downloads (Trending), by platform and podcast app used, and geographic area.
  5. Note that you can first pick an episode file from the middle of the page and then look at the above statistics for that particular episode alone.
  6. At the top right of the page, you can click Print or PDF to produce a PDF file of the statistics currently on the page. If you select "Export Episodes", Blubrry will create an Excel CSV file of the statistics.

How to see your statistics on Apple's Podcasts Analytics Tool:

  1. Login to your Apple Podcasts Connect account.
  2. Click on the "My Podcasts" drop-down menu and select "Podcast Analytics".
  3. Click on the name of your podcast.
  4. The Overview section shows you how many unique iOS devices have played your podcast, along with the total amount of time listened (across all episodes and devices) and the average time spent per device. Below, it shows how many listeners are subscribed to your podcast through the Podcasts app, as well as episode-level measurement of these same statistics.
  5. If you select "Trends", you can see graphs showing the change over time of these statistics. The most relevant stat here from your podcast-level data is the unique devices listening to your show.
  6. If you select "Episodes", you can see a graph of how much of a particular episode was played by all devices. Where this line chart decreases indicates where listeners stopped the podcast episode.
  7. Back in the Overview section, you can select a date range in the top right of the screen. Unfortunately, Apple hasn't provided a great way to export this data as a PDF or CSV.

 

For podcast creators, data is key

Tracking your podcast's downloads needn't be overly complicated. Once you've set up your tracking service (or located the statistics on your existing media host), let it run for a few weeks and then download a report of the last four to five episodes of download data. When approaching sponsors, this data will be invaluable for making a strong case for why they should partner with you, and you'll be on your way to making money from your show!

Want to read more guides for podcast creators? Click here to see our other guides.