Podcast Metrics: My turn.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here, and a lot has happened since the last article.

CNN has relaunched their podcast landing page at cnn.com/podcast with dynamically updating “latest episodes” at the top, and a list of available podcasts at the bottom of the page.

For anyone that remembers what was there before, this is a vast improvement.

CNN podcast page

CNN has also launched “RunningMate with Ryan Nobles” a political podcast about the Presidential campaign. Not everyone is cut out to be a podcast host or producer. Many people who get into podcasting are doing a version of “radio” and their real jobs are on TV, or as writers. Producing a show to listen to is a different skill, and I can tell you that Ryan has taken to it very, very well.

Early iTunes reviews were rough but on point. Things were learned and changes were made. The audience is growing, and I suggest you check it out. CNN has also added “The Lead with Jake Tapper” and “The Situation Room” and “Amanpour” to the stable of television shows you can get in audio.

It’s all been happening thanks to our partners at Palegroove.

As I’ve been working on growing podcasts at CNN, I’ve been once again getting deeper into metrics.

I had a conversation with a friend at a well known podcast ad network and asked him how downloads on their new shows were doing. He said “well of course I can’t give you the numbers, but we’re doing really well” and when he asked me how we are doing, I said pretty much the same thing. It’s a silly game of hiding download numbers. I don’t even know WHY we do it. Seriously, why? We tell the advertisers the numbers, why aren’t they public?

There is no Comscore for podcasts, and it’s really beginning to drive me nuts. I heard Jarl Mohn from NPR on the Reliable Sources podcast mention that the new NPR Politics podcast is in the “top 20” and doing really well. He didn’t say he was referring to iTunes, but I assume he was. And if you’re in the podcast business you know the iTunes rankings are great… and not great.

Because the Apple algorithm helps new podcasts get traction iTunes is not only tracking downloads and plays, but clicks and reviews and all kinds of things go into that secret sauce. Is being top 20 still a good thing? Of course, but it’s also kind of meaningless at the same time. A podcast can be in the Top 20, and still be getting fewer downloads than other podcasts in the top 50.

I think the industry would benefit from some 3rd party metrics solutions. The IAB Podcast Working Group is apparently working on it… but… I haven’t heard anything concrete in the works. Did metrics improve in 2015? I don’t think so. In the meantime MidRoll and Panoply and WNYC and everyone is enjoying the resurgence in attention and ad dollars without measurement changes, so maybe it’s not a problem?

It’s not terribly broken. With opt-in surveys, and downloads and streaming stats there really is a good bit of information that ad buyers can consider.

While I do think the industry would benefit overall from 3rd party metrics to bring in more advertisers and have a level playing field from network to network, the part that drives me nuts isn’t the sales dilemma.

It’s a new podcaster asking “what are the downloads?” followed up with “is that good?” Maybe I just like scoreboards and competition too much, but I like to be able to measure success against something. I want a chart that is meaningful, not the iTunes charts that change by a bunch of known and unknown variables.

In just a few clicks, I can find out how many people watched TV, wouldn’t it be nice to have something similar for podcasts?

The podcasting business is more than just downloads. It’s engagement and loyalty, and a desirable audience demo, etc. but we still need to get the numbers down, don’t you think?

Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter, or LinkedIn etc.

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