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Would You Prefer Accurate Or Actionable Podcast Metrics? [S3E96]
Episode 9617th March 2021 • Podcast Pontifications • Evo Terra
00:00:00 00:08:48

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The listener privacy versus data intelligence battle rages on with

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podcasters caught in the crossfire, reminding us of how little

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ownership we actually have of the relationship with our listeners.

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

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Today's episode was brought to you by the podcast app developers who'd

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like to remind you that we, the podcasters, are not their client.

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Instead we, and the shows we make, are their product.

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Breaking news, Evo.

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It appears the changes you're about to speak of have already

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been rolled back by the developer.

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But you still raise good points in this episode, so carry on!

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,We're going to have a discussion about statistics today,

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podcast metrics, if you will.

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You have to make a decision right now, podcaster.

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Do you want accurate stats?

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And by accurate, I mean, precision accuracy that tells you every single

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access of your file and that is tracked down to the minutia, accurate?

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Or do you want actionable data on how your podcast and your outreach

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efforts are actually performing?

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Choose one.

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Accuracy, which just gives you accurate counting, or actionable, that tells

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you how everything is working together.

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Not quite the same thing.

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Today, Overcast, a privacy-focused and very popular iOS app, which I use, at

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least when my wife and I are traveling, to listen to the shared podcast together.

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Overcast is now blocking the second choice.

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Overcast is blocking your ability to get actionable data on how

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your podcast and your outreach efforts are actually performing.

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Let me explain what I mean by that.

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Well, actually, before I explain what I mean by that, let me say this.

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Now luckily, in the words of the developer, Marco Arment, in his own words,

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he says, "Overcast is too small for anyone to notice," because, "Overcast represents

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something like 2 to 4% of their audience."

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Let's get into this.

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Specifically, starting now, if you are looking at your stats

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from Overcast in your podcast hosting company, you will be fine.

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You'll be fine because that's a-okay.

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Still going to be accessing the content.

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However, if you're using services like Chartable or Podsights, and at some

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point in the time, at some point in time in the future, reading the words,

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reading into the words written there, maybe even Podtrac, those services

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will no longer show Overcast accesses.

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Oh, that's interesting.

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What's going on here?

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Well, the issue is the fact that some DNS providers, the geeky internal stuff

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around the internet, there's ad-blocking happening at the DNS level these days.

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And that is in some cases causing problems, a legitimate problem

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that we certainly need to solve.

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No question about that.

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And the play that Marco is putting in play currently is to

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skip those blocking problems.

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Services like Chartable and like Podsights and others do what we call Prefix URLs,

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where they grab some information at the requested file download, bounce it

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through some servers, and ultimately get it down to the podcast hosting company.

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Marco's found a way to bypass the Chartables and the Podsights of

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the world so the file, in theory, should still be downloaded.

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The listeners using Overcast will not be impeded - again, that's the

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intent - from getting their files, they just won't show up in those other, more

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actionable data providers' dashboards.

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Overcast specifically will not show up in those dashboards.

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They will just not even appear.

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Like invisible activity.

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That's the idea.

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The reason this is happening is because Marco was wanting to block what he

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considers to be "creepy" behavior on the parts of the Chartables and the Podsights.

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Okay.

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So what that means for us is welcome to the arms race.

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Here we are.

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What are we going to do about something like this?

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Can't really do anything about this.

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Well, what I guess we could do is we can say, fine, we're not going to use those

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additional services, which we know give us much more actionable insight, much

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more data that we can get, as opposed to just simply a file download, which is

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bogus anyhow, as I've said many a time.

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We could do that.

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We're not going to do that.

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I mean, reality is once you get the rich data, once you get the understanding of

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how much more information you can get from using services like Chartable and

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like Podsights and others that might be bypassed during this service, I don't

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think you're going to want to go back.

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I know I personally get a lot of value out of both of those services.

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And my plan is to continue to use the services because - not

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because they're creepy, no.

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They give information beyond the download.

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There's just only so much data we can get by looking at downloads

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and we just have to have more.

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So really what it means to me is now I have to go update all my clients.

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I've got to tell my clients that, hey, you know, you're using these

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services because I recommended you use these services because you

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wanted more actionable, meaningful data about how your podcast and your

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outreach/marketing efforts are working.

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You wanted to do that.

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I recommended that you look at these things, well, now your

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stats are going to be impacted.

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In those dashboards we will not see the activity from probably the most popular

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iOS app that's not named Apple Podcasts.

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That's going to be a fun conversation.

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But it'll be a conversation about accuracy versus actionable intelligence.

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But of course we still have the "accurate" data, not really, at the

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podcast hosting level on just file downloads, which is not really accurate.

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So what are you going to do?

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I mean, there's probably, again, like I said, not much you can do

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other than disconnect, or probably just bring this conversation up

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with your podcasting peer group.

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Send them a link to this episode.

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See how they feel about it.

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I suppose there could be an outcry, a, you know, an uprising, if you will,

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with us podcasters who want this actual data, who can rail against and say no.

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And, you know, maybe that happens and Marco switches back.

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Maybe, more likely, I guess, that whatever this little trick is that he has to

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bypass the hops, as he's calling them, that go to these analytics providers,

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back to the host, maybe that thing stops working because, you know, some

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things stop working, things change around the internet as these companies

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try to find ways to get around that.

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I don't know.

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Maybe the analytics providers can provide data to him and say, look,

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we're not being creepy, let us back in.

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I don't know.

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Welcome to the world of uncertainty in podcasting.

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But what is certain is this, if you love the content I provide to you,

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please go to buymeacoffee.com/evoterra, and slide a virtual coffee my way.

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That's always nice.

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That's it.

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I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.