The great impediment to podcasts taking off from a financial point of view has been dodgy metrics. Yes, we know how many times a particular podcast has been downloaded, but unless you have some super-proprietary software (like we have for the Ongoing History podcast), that’s all the info you have.
For podcasts to work, advertisers want to know more. Who is downloading your podcasts? Where in the world do they live? Do they listen to the podcast or just download it? And if they listen, how much of the podcast to they hear before the bail/get bored/get distracted and move on?
This could all be solved (well, a large part of it could be solved) if Apple would only give podcast creators the data they collect on podcasts offered through iTunes, which is the source for the vast, vast majority of on-demand listening. But Apple would never voluntarily give up that valuable data, would they?
Hang on. Let’s go to the Jacobs Media blog:
Perhaps the most exciting announcement is that Apple will now allow podcasters to see data about their shows using Podcast Analytics. Until now, Apple has been a black box when it comes to podcast data. Podcasters could only see the number of times an episode was downloaded through the hosting company where their audio files reside, but they couldn’t determine if that audio files was played — and if it was, how much of it was actually played.
To give you that information, the podcast hosting company would need to receive data back from the app that the podcast was played on. Because Apple’s ecosystem is far and away the source of most podcast plays, there has been no way for podcasters to measure their “Time Spent Listening.” As I noted, the only metric available has been “downloads.”
If Apple is going to open up their data to the world when it comes to podcasts, this should be very, very big.