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Apple has finally turned on its podcast analytics feature

Podcast creators — and advertisers — know very little about podcast consumption. That’s going to change.

desktop, tablet and mobile phone screens showing Apple Podcast’s page
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

The people who make podcasts — and the people who advertise on podcasts — are about to learn a lot more about the way people consume podcasts.

Apple has turned on a long-promised analytics feature that gives podcast creators the ability to see basic information about the way people listen (or don’t listen) to shows on Apple’s Podcast app.

For instance, podcast creators can now see (aggregated and anonymized, not device- or user-specific) data about when listeners stopped listening to a particular episode.

Here’s a mock-up featuring a nonexistent podcast, which actually appears to have pretty good engagement. My hunch is most podcasts show a much steeper decline:

You can read more about why this matters in a post I wrote in June, when Apple first said the feature would be coming. But in short:

  • Up until now there has been comically little data about podcast consumption, especially compared to other digital media.
  • This matters to podcast creators because they are unable to tell how the stuff they make performs — at best, they can usually only tell if someone has downloaded an episode or started to stream it.
  • This also matters to podcast advertisers, who would like to know if people are listening to the ads they pay for. Right now, many of them are doing a crude end run around this data void by asking listeners to use a show-specific code when they visit a site after hearing an ad.
  • Some podcast software has already provided some of this data. And the data that Apple is offering now is still fairly crude. But the majority of podcast consumption happens on Apple’s software, and up until now it has been a black hole. So this is a big move for the industry, which generates a lot of attention (among media types, at least) but a very modest amount of money so far.
  • The data Apple is providing only comes from people using its newest software: iOS 11 and iTunes 12.7. So it won’t be complete.
  • There is considerable debate in podcastland about whether getting this data will be a good thing or a bad thing. I’m a podcast creator (you should check out my interview with Steven Soderbergh and Scott Frank, who made the new Netflix show “Godless”), and I’m on Team Let’s Know More Not Less About The Things We Make.

Apple says the data should be available now to anyone who already uploads shows to its Podcast platform, in more than 150 countries worldwide. It’s free.

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