Last June, Apple announced it would be rolling out a new, free podcast analytics feature that would provide podcast creators and advertisers with more information about how people listen to shows on its podcast app. On December 15, Apple made good on the promise and took the feature live.
It’s a pretty basic set of data points, like when in a specific episode most people stop listening. But even the smallest amount of listener info is valuable, considering the dearth of data that Apple has provided to advertisers and creators up to this point. The new feature isn’t very comprehensive, only coming from iOS 11 and iTunes 12.7 software. But still. Those in the business of podcasting consider it an encouraging sign.
Ad Results Media is the podcast industry’s largest ad buyer, representing brands like Stamps.com, MeUndies, SeatGeek, Blue Apron, and more. Partner and chief revenue officer Steve Shanks says his clients are most curious about what specific data points will be available and how much access ad buyers will really have to the numbers. “We expect 2018 will be the year of analytics, specifically the year of growth listenership analytics,” Shanks says. “We’ll be able to better identify the winners and losers, and the industry overall will have a more refined perspective across all metrics and the way we purchase media will also become even more efficient.”
Jason Cox, chief technology officer at podcast network Panoply, says that deeper analytics around listenership will further build legitimacy for advertisers and brand marketers, and allow them to better understand the podcast industry’s highly engaged listeners. “In the short term, the biggest changes will likely come from content creators due to the increased visibility in listener engagement,” says Cox. “With the new analytics platform, they can make data-informed decisions on content strategy, such as episode lengths or topics.”
Podcasts have seen a pretty healthy growth trajectory, with U.S. advertising revenues expected to hit more than $220 million in 2017, an 85% boost over the $119 million in 2016, and it will only attract more advertiser interest with better measurement.
Given how limited the new analytics feature is, even though Apple’s podcast app is the most widely used, Cox says that over the long term there will need to be a standard form of podcast measurement that includes more platforms.
“We predict there will be more granular reporting that accounts for dynamic ad insertion,” he says. “Sweeping changes in the industry will only occur if there is more access to nuanced analytics.”