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Unlocking Podcast Listener Data Without Being Creepy [S3E107]
Episode 1077th April 2021 • Podcast Pontifications • Evo Terra
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Evo Terra:

Podcast apps have all the data podcasters want.

Evo Terra:

Way more than our hosting companies provide.

Evo Terra:

But there's so much more they could tell us that would be good for us, good

Evo Terra:

for them, and good for the listeners.

Evo Terra:

Hello, and welcome to another Podcast Pontifications with me, Evo Terra.

Evo Terra:

When Apple Podcasts launched Podcast Connect several years ago,

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I was terribly excited by that.

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So were a lot of other podcasting pundents and consultants and experts out there.

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But then Apple's Podcast Connect platform came out and we all had

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to roll back our expectations.

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Because the data was pretty thin, not surprisingly.

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And it really didn't answer the questions we all wanted.

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But don't get me wrong, it was good to have.

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It was finally good to have some information on listener

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retention, listen-through-rate.

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It was very nice to see that data, but still I was like,

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oh, I just wish there was more.

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And just today, I heard that Amazon/Audible is silently and quietly,

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which are the same things, rolling out what looks to be another podcast platform.

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So they'll join, not only Apple Podcasts with their Podcasts Connect, they will

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also join Spotify and Google Podcasts.

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Next up will be Amazon.

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And then that makes me think who's after that, right?

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What are the next ones going to be?

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Why not iHeart Radio?

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Why not Pandora?

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Why not everybody?

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Why not Overcast?

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Why not every single podcast app, giving us some data about what's happening

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with our shows inside of their apps?

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Because as I said at the beginning, they own the data.

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They understand more about the people listening to our shows

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than we, the podcasters, do.

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And certainly more than our podcast hosting companies do.

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So I wanted to take this episode to think about a what if situation.

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What if they were to open up - they the podcast apps - and give us some

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data that is not in any way PII.

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I don't want someone's name or email.

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Well, I probably do want that, but look, we do not need that information.

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We do not need that, but we could get some pretty good stuff.

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So let's roll with that for a moment.

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The biggest problem, I think, with all of these portals is that they have failed

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to answer the question that I think most podcasters really want to know.

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And that is how big is my audience?

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Seems like a straightforward question to answer, certainly question to ask.

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But it's not one to answer because well, what do we mean by that?

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Now, they do a decent job of that.

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They're not completely absent in this world, but here's what we get.

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Spotify has a metric they give us called "Listeners."

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I don't know if they're listeners or not.

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Basically, those are, in their definition, users of their platform

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who have at least started an episode.

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I don't know what started means, but nonetheless unique users on Spotify's

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platform who have started an episode.

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But I don't know over what time that is.

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So that's a listener.

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Now, they also give a "Follower" number.

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And that means pretty clearly what a follower is.

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That's an individual Spotify account who has chosen to follow a show and

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yes, that listeners number is much larger than the followers number.

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Is that the size of the audience on Spotify?

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Maybe, but again, with some parameters, it might be more helpful.

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How big is my audience?

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Apple Podcasts gives you something similar.

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They give you "Devices."

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Also, once again, unique devices that have played an episode, they say.

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We just don't know where, what time.

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And by the way, Apple Podcasts does not show - well, what they used to

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call subscribers or still do, I guess, and are soon going to call followers.

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So I don't know.

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So, if my devices number is 15, does that mean I only have two followers?

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We just don't know.

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It's just not, we don't have the data.

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And Google only gives subscribers.

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No information about unique Google users and also not across what timeframe.

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So none of those three.

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And I, therefore, assume that when Apple comes out, they're probably also not

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going to answer that question for us.

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But they all could say in the last 30 days, in the last 90 days, in

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the last whatever days, these are the number of unique people that

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use our device to listen to X number of seconds or minutes of your show.

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So easy for them to give that to us.

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But they're probably not going to anytime real soon.

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But while I was thinking of the wishlist, I thought, well,

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let's talk about other things.

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What else could we get?

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Because again, the listener data is locked up inside of those apps.

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And I mean, the listening data.

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Here's one thing I would love to get from these apps.

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I'd like to get some information on discovery.

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You know, that thing that podcasters keep saying is broken that I'm

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not really so sure is broken?

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But I'm curious about discovery in the app, in the service they provide.

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Now, Google Podcasts does a very little bit of this because they're Google.

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And if you've logged into Google Analytics or the Google Search console,

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you know that Google likes to cough up a lot of information, but all of

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their discovery is about Google Search.

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It's not about the Google Podcasts app, which is a weird app, I get it.

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But just imagine if Apple Podcasts did this?

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Or Spotify or Amazon did this?

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We could get information about was the content, was our content

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discovered by someone from a certain categories that we might be listening?

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Cause I'm listed in three categories.

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You probably have your show listed in three categories, as well.

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Which one of those categories are people using to find your content?

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Because people actually do go to the category section

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and find shows from there.

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Or were there search terms that were used inside of the app?

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Most of these services have horrible search engines, but they get better.

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Could we get some search data that's coming back?

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How many of these listeners/followers/audience size,

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how many were following direct links to that platform from somewhere else?

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And what's the referral of that information?

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Discovery information would be great.

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Why not give up some data about MAUs or monthly active users?

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It's great to know how many listeners I have.

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But just like Google Analytics kicks out a report for 7, 14, and 30 day

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MAUs (monthly active users), I want to know are the people, are those

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listeners, what percentage of those listeners out there have consumed 2

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episodes, 3 episodes, 30 episodes?

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What's the virality, not virality, wrong word, but what's the stickiness

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of the content that we have?

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Reporting back on how many times people keep coming back to our

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content will be quite helpful.

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I want to know about, let's call them swipe lefts, right?

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You have, I have both had the same encounter.

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We're looking through our podcast list of the episodes that have

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been either provided to us via download or ready for streaming.

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And we choose to swipe left and just delete some of those before we even

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read them, before we listen to them.

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I want to know that.

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Podcasters want to know, hey, these episodes, this many is sitting in the

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queue, this many were already dismissed.

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That's great information.

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Maybe we could improve the way that we're creating our shows or

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at least titling our episodes.

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Would be very helpful.

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How about providing some ranking details for the services that provide ranks?

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And you know that Apple - when Amazon Music and Audible comes out, there's going

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to be charts over there cause Amazon's big on the charts and Amazon's good

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at coughing up that data for authors.

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Will they do it for podcasts?

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Will they give some information?

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Why doesn't Apple give me some information?

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I want to know that my podcast is currently ranked X in the Y chart.

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Easy information they could provide to us right in the interface.

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What about listener flow?

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As a listener listens from one episode to the other episode of the same podcast.

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I'm not looking for outsider information, but I want to know if someone is

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listening to episode 420 and then 419 and 418, are they going that way?

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Are they bouncing around?

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Show me the flow.

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Again, Google Analytics does a great job of this using a Sankey chart,

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which is, I learned about that term not long ago, to show you where people

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are moving from one episode to another.

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Provide that!

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Give us that information so we know what's connecting our episodes together.

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That will help us, the podcasters, make better content for the listeners.

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And then also some listener insights.

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Now, Spotify is doing a decent job about this, not the best

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job about this, but pretty good.

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So just some ideas.

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Look, I don't think we podcasters have a preference, but if we got

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better data, I'm pretty sure we'd have a very strong preference, right?

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The Browser Wars were won by who could service the user, better.

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Maybe the Podcast Browser Wars will be won by those who gives us the better data.

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I don't know.

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Insights I think we could really need.

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Ask your peers what they think.

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And most importantly, if you really like the content I provide to you,

Evo Terra:

please go to buymeacoffee.com/evoterra.

Evo Terra:

That's it.

Evo Terra:

See you tomorrow for another Podcast Pontifications.