Several months ago, the podcast industry recognized a chance to enhance the credibility of our primary metric: the download. Unlike the enclosed ecosystems seen in other media channels, our open podcast industry – encompassing multiple hosting platforms, measurement providers, and podcast players – adheres to universally accepted standards, ensuring accountability.
We identified an opportunity to make recommendations to the team at Apple Podcasts regarding the behavior of their automatic download feature, which would further align reported downloads with listener consumption. New ways of looking at how frequency of ads impacted attribution by Podscribe put renewed attention on the issue, and a coalition of industry partners, facilitated in part by Sounds Profitable, consolidated these recommendations (primarily concerning their automatic downloading feature) for review by Apple.
These suggestions aligned with Apple’s own research on user behavior, and as a result, changes were implemented to that will help hosting providers further refine download metrics. We are pleased that the team at Apple has been responsive and continues to make these improvements.
The improvements were incorporated in the iOS 17 release on September 18th, 2023. Podcast publishers may observe variations in their download statistics for Apple Podcasts, especially for older episodes. Factors like the show’s catalog size, listener habits, listenership on Apple Podcasts, and iOS 17 adoption rate will influence the rate and extent of this change.
This is by no means a first for the podcast industry. We previously emphasized metric accuracy when adopting the IAB v2 Podcast Measurement Guidelines in 2018. Our industry’s philosophy remains consistent: whenever possible, we will refine our offering for listeners and advertisers. Our open nature ensures we maintain mutual accountability.
We look forward to collaborating with advertisers to understand and adapt to these changes and we anticipate these adjustments will lead to improved campaign performance. We also ask publishers for patience as they navigate these modifications. Any reduction of inventory, especially entering the fourth quarter, requires a strategic approach to sustain success.
Bryan Moffett, COO of National Public Media, said, “Since podcasting’s inception, automatic downloads have ensured access to favorite shows anytime, anywhere. Industry professionals have recognized that not all automatic downloads lead to plays, sparking discussions with Apple over the years. The challenge has been striking a balance between user convenience and potential unused downloads for advertisers. The download remains the primary reliable metric. Our industry has tirelessly refined its definition, and Apple’s recent adjustment is a step forward.”
Acast CEO Ross Adams said: “The engagement between the listener and the podcaster is what drives advertising effectiveness in podcasting, which makes unique listens one of the most important metrics to our medium. At Acast, we’re continuing to see this data point increase, and according to research from Edison, the share of time spent with podcasting has grown 5X in the last five years, compared to other forms of audio.”
Tom Webster, Partner at Sounds Profitable and an 18-year veteran of the podcasting space, noted the following: “It is important to recognize that podcasting’s listener base hasn’t declined – it continues to grow at a robust rate every year. The weekly podcast audience 12+, in fact, grew 19% this year over 2022 figures, according to Edison Research. From an audience perspective, the space has never been stronger.”
Moffett added, “Years of attribution studies have shown that the medium works amazingly well, and this change will only increase that performance.”
Questions about this initiative may be addressed to Sounds Profitable. These improvements were made possible with the support and input from Apple and the following partners:
Sound That BRANDS
Sound Off Podcast Network
The Law Offices of Lindsay Bowen PLLC
Ad Results Media
La Coctelera Music
Culture & Code
Press contact: Bryan Barletta
Sounds Profitable – Partner
Acast – PR Lead, Americas
National Public Media
Marketing & Communications, NPR