(Disclosure: the author’s weekly podcast is hosted on Omny Studio.)
According to the IAB, about half of all podcasts are played within the iTunes Podcast app.
The California company is, however, very coy about sharing any statistics at all: the iTunes chart reflects trends rather than absolute downloads, and there is no way of monitoring audience behavior within the iTunes Podcast app.
Podcast listeners can skip portions of shows, including presenter-read advertising; they can also stop listening early. Producers have only been able to monitor this from hosted web players, and have had no insight into how audiences were using the iTunes Podcast app — until now.
Australian cloud-based audio management company Omny Studio have spent months developing a way to monitor the iTunes Podcast app, and they’ve just released an upgrade for their enterprise customers which, for the first time, lifts the curtain on these statistics.
In a press release, CEO Sharon Taylor said: “Insight at this granular level of detail is not currently available for Apple’s app anywhere else. Previously we could only get consumption insights if we controlled the player, so being able to see this for the Apple Podcasts app is a breakthrough. Not only could this help to verify host-read ad plays, it will also help from a content perspective, to lift the curtain on podcast audience’s listening habits.”
Via email, Sharon told me that the company is tracking about 30% of all plays within the Podcast app. This sample is based on listeners who stream, rather than pre-download, podcasts.
I was curious as to how the company was monitoring this information, and while Omny Studio’s process is understandably proprietary, they also understand the benefit of being open with their process.
“The traditional byte range requests was basis for inspiration, but we can see exact skips and stops which goes well above quartile tracking,” Sharon told me. The company has some heuristics which ensure confidence in the figures, and has algorithms in place to track streams which are paused and later resumed.
“It’s not at a point where it can be used to verify ad plays yet, however it’s a first step and if others can help move it forward that’s something we’re open to. We’re toying with the idea of releasing a technical document to show everyone how to do it in the hopes that it helps more in the industry.”
The lack of consumption data has, historically, held podcasting back — although those involved with podcasting claim that their consumption data is already significantly better than, for example, print media or outdoor. Omny Studio’s insights into the market-leading podcast player should be welcomed.