PodSchool Podcast | Podcast stats explainer


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Podcast stats explainer

What do all those numbers mean?

Podcast stats are the currency podcasters use to measure success. 

They’re also a way to get sponsors interested in your show so understanding what they are, how they work, and which ones are most reliable is important.

Apple Google Spotify

What are the stats inside your podcast host dashboard?

The data inside your podcast host is pulled from your RSS feed so wherever your show is played or downloaded it’s registered in the analytics section of your podcast host.

Looking at your podcast stats can be useful to see an overview of all the places your show is being listened to and the total number of listens.

If you want more granular information about how people are interacting with your podcast including consumption data you can look inside the dashboards of individual directories like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.

It’s important to note podcast hosts measure things slightly differently although hosts who are “IAB version x compliant” or “IAB version x certified” are fairly comparable.

If ‘IAB’ means nothing to you, don’t worry.  You don’t have to dive too deep into what certification or compliance means (unless you want to).

Just know it’s best to go with a host that’s IAB certified otherwise your numbers could be overreported.

What is a podcast RSS feed?


Why don’t you want your podcast stats to be over-reported?

You might be thinking “The more downloads the better, right??”  But as the industry is becoming more standardised you’ll eventually feel the consequences if you’re with a podcast host that isn’t accurately reporting.

If you’ve told advertisers you’re pulling in a certain number of downloads then you shift to an IAB-certified podcast host or your podcast host decides to adhere to the regulations you might notice a drop in your downloads.

That can be, at best, a real blow to the ego and, at worst, a difficult conversation to have with advertisers as they realise they’ve been paying money for downloads that didn’t exist.

What happens when you change podcast hosts?


Is the ‘unique podcast listeners’ statistic accurate?

This number will sometimes be referred to in the back end of your podcast host as ‘unique listeners’ or ‘total listeners.’  

This number isn’t 100% accurate but podcast hosts are getting better at triangulating the data based on IP addresses and user agents.

Despite that, there are limitations to this number because, if you start listening to a podcast on your home wifi, jump on the train, and then finish the ep when you get to the office, you’ll register as multiple users…which you’re not.

Podcast hosts are trying their best to work out ways to prevent this kind of duplication and they’re getting better but it’s not a number that should be relied on.

How do your download numbers compare to other podcasts?


What’s the difference between a play and a download?

Some podcast apps download a podcast automatically, while others only download it when you press play (often referred to as ‘streaming’ but it’s actually a ‘user-initiated download’).

At the moment, most podcast hosts register these two things as the same thing (IAB-compliant hosts will only count the ‘play’ if 60 seconds of the file was played/downloaded).

Obviously, this means there are limitations to this measurement because most people don’t listen to every episode that’s been downloaded to their phone but these still count as a listen whether the content has been consumed or not.

Apple Podcasts also stops downloading podcasts if you stop listening to them but a lot of other apps download them forever which means download figures on those platforms will appear bigger than they are.

How do the Apple Podcasts charts work?


So where does that leave us?

Podcast stats aren’t perfect but as the industry grows and there’s greater demand for measurability the tech is only going to get better.

Podcasters are also reluctant to release their stats publicly (unless they’re good) so it’s hard to know what downloads other shows in your niche are getting.

When it comes to using your analytics to measure success the best thing to do is to look at your own listening and audience trends over time.

Is your podcast audience growing? 

Are people consuming the content you’re making (you can get more accurate data on this in directory dashboards like Google and Apple Podcasts rather than the dashboard of your host)?

If you’ve got a website with show notes this can also give you useful data about how people are interacting with the content around your show.

Looking at all this data together and watching changes over time will help you make more informed decisions.

Just make sure you start out with a podcast host that takes measurement seriously because you want your data to be measured as accurately as possible from day one so there are no nasty surprises.

Want an even deeper dive on podcast stats?  Check out this article on Podnews.

Got a burning question you’d like answered on the podcast? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!