Who is listening to my podcast?
Downloads ≠ listens
It is incredibly difficult to determine real listeners of your podcast. One can track downloads, but that is not equivalent to listens—downloads could be initiated by bots, episodes may be downloaded but never listened to, etc. Conversely, one might undercount listens because some podcast apps cache files on their servers and so download a file from a podcast hosting company (like RSS Blue) only once.
Still interested in downloads?
If you are fine with this and still want to get statistics on your podcast downloads, there are options. One of the most popular approaches is prefix analytics services, where requests to audio files are routed through a third-party service that records some basic data. Below is a diagram explaining how this works.
At RSS Blue, we currently offer integration with one such service—OP3—which is described in more detail below.
Open Podcast Prefix Project (OP3) is a free and open-source service “committed to open data and listener privacy”. For each download, OP3 records and can return the following data:
- anonymized (so as not to compromise listener privacy) IP address, which allows to differentiate between different listeners
- user agent, which typically allows to identify the podcast player
- approximate listener location (down to the level of city or part of city)
OP3 is very open—everyone will be able to look at analytics of podcasts that choose to use this service. Click here to see an example of an OP3 show page. To some people, having analytics publicly available an advantage, as it enables complete transparency, something that, for example, advertisers might be interested in. To others, having their podcast download data open to the public is unappealing. The choice is yours!
To access public analytics page of your podcast, enable OP3 by editing your podcast. After that, OP3 Insights button will appear at the top of your dashboard. Note that after you enable OP3, it might take a few days before a show page is generated.
Podcasting 2.0 innovations are also providing a new way to measure podcast listenership. Specifically, some apps support continuous streaming of payments to podcasters. Money is a much stronger signal of listener engagement than downloads, and so this approach is promising!
OP3 allows you to include them in your value split. Once you do that, in addition to downloads, it will also display listen-time statistics based on streamed payments. For example, it will estimate what proportion of your listeners listened to at least 50% of an episode.
You can easily include OP3 in your value split by editing your feed. However, note that there are several limitations:
- This is just a proxy for listens—not all listeners will send payments
- This relies on streamed payments, not one-time payments (boosts)
- If the amount associated with a stream is too small, OP3 may not even receive it (and thus record it). For more reliable statistics, you can increase the proportion of payments you share with this service.