The podcast industry continues to survive without proof that it’s viable.
Crazy, isn’t it? Here we are closing out another year – 17 years after the invention of the iPod – and the vast majority of the podcast industry still cannot prove that it actually has listeners, or how much those folks listen to specific episodes of podcasts.
Looking back over the year, we’ve seen the advent of the WaPo’s Rhapsocord ad insertion tool, which has gone underground almost as quickly as it surfaced for an initial sighting. We’ve seen Google do a super strange add of a “Podcasts Player” outside of the Google Play Music library that normally (and still) houses the podcasts that are listed on Google. The IAB has worked diligently to promote the use of real stats, to make determinations about what constitutes a real stat that describes something in particular, and attempted to get everyone onboard with using these metrics.
One could suppose that as long as the NPR, WBUR, NYTimes, iHeartRadio, etc types are jumping into something, then it’s probably giving up at least a reasonable modicum of statistics for the production companies with enough listeners (and funding) to be part of pilot programs that advertisers can rely on when making buys or at the up fronts.
“Measurement has been one of the open challenges in the podcast industry for a long time,”
said Acast’s Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Johan Billgren, in a recent NPR publication describing the new RAD system that they are proposing for tracking listening rates, instead of just counting downloads. NPR is a powerhouse in the podcast industry and could potentially be a stepping stone to the rest of the podcast universe – the small guy, the independents, the underfunded – actually being able to find out how their podcasts are performing.
The democratization of podcasting, like blogging, has led to a lot of frustration.
It’s so very, very rare that a podcast, outside of a big money production, becomes a thing these days. If you’ve got a radio show, great, you can have a popular podcast. If you’re backed by some really big money and a savvy advertising department, you can have a popular podcast. But… if you’re just the average Joe running about time recording stuff in your spare time, trying to get a few more listeners with each episode, wondering if you are wasting your time with the whole thing since you’ve got no way to find anyone to advertise or sponsor you, then yeah, this podcasting thing can be a bit daunting unless you truly are doing it just for the fun of it.
Or unless you are using your podcast to market your business in the same way you would use video or other content creation that supports your enterprises. I think we’re going to push a lot harder on that in the coming year – providing more ideas about how to implement your marketing and advertising plans via mobile in order to get the best results.
So what’s the plan, Stan?
It’s important to everyone in the podcast industry that there is a viable way to measure the amount of each episode that listeners actually hear; perhaps less important to smaller publishers and producers who do not have a large audience base and who are still getting sponsorship money instead of advertising dollars that are predicated on having good stats.
There will still be hobbyists, still be those who create and produce their podcasts with love each time they release a new episode, and that love is more for the fact that they’re expressing themselves with their episodes, even though they aren’t particularly looking at it as a way to pay the mortgage.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.