Apple is finally going to revamp their iTunes Podcasts app, providing more detailed analytics for podcasters, reports Re/Code. These listener behavior analytics will give increased transparency into how users are consuming specific podcast episodes, including most importantly their drop-off rate.
While my immediate gut-check reaction was optimistic, the term “big” may actually underscore the repercussions from this change.
This is big! https://t.co/LBKJ8I169C
— Discover Pods (@Discover_Pods) June 10, 2017
Here are some screenshots of how the new features will display for podcasters:
Impact on Advertisers
Advertisers thrive on data, it’s what determines whether a specific investment is providing ample returns, or not. Should they increase or decrease their spend with a particular podcast?
Related reading: Why Every Company Should Advertise on Podcasts
Therefore, this increased level of audience insight is a dream come true from advertisers already investing in podcasts, and for those on the fence. Google, Facebook, and nearly everywhere else these marketers are spending their ad dollars provides levels of data where you can target specific audiences and segment the data however you’d like. Podcasts were unique in just how little info the advertisers received.
Sure [major podcast] gets a few million downloads, seems like a good investment. How many of those downloads converted to listeners? How many of the listeners simply skipped through the ads? How many of the listeners dropped off after the first ten minutes? This new update should provide answers to all of these questions.
Impact on Podcasters
Here’s where the major difference (I suspect) will be realized. Podcasts, as I’ve written ad nausea, have a discoverability problem. This inherent problem leads to major consequences. The rich get richer isn’t only a figure of speech in this context.
The podcasts frequently topping the podcasts charts and rankings will cherish this update. This provides data and proof points for them to go back to their advertisers and command more money. I’m assuming here the listener data is favorable to their speculations and the engagement is high and the churn is low.
The pain, however, will be felt by ultra-niche and start-up podcasts. Though on the surface the barrier to entry for a podcast is relatively low, the barrier to monetize and become self-sustainable will likely increase. Until these podcasts can show, with data, a large volume of engaged listeners advertisers are likely to spend their money elsewhere.
Related reading: 25 of the Best Podcast Microphones
Why These Features?
After speaking with several podcasters, the one question on nearly everyone’s mind is “why these features?” Yes, advanced analytics were inevitable despite Apple’s stance on privacy. However, there are much more obvious features podcasters are in need of.
Did you know iTunes doesn’t even tell podcasters how many subscribers they have?
Literally, every other content community provides this basic feature — and it’s typically public. YouTube shows you have many subscribers you have. Facebook shows you your page Likes. SoundCloud, Vimeo, Twitter, etc. all have this very basic feature. Why can’t the Podcasts app?
Another much-needed feature, especially in the wake of this news, is the ability for podcasters to monetize their content within the app. Most young and even mid-tier podcasts typically try to monetize in some other method to (at the very least) complement their advertising if it exists. For many, this usually happens on Patreon where listeners can opt to donate to simply support the content creators or to receive some sort of incentive.
While Patreon works exceptionally well, it still adds another step for listeners to contribute. Would-be donators still need to create a Patreon account and add in the payment methods. If Apple could recreate some of the success Patreon sees, but provide the ability to donate with in-app purchases, podcasters could offer the same incentives while keeping listeners engaged.