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How Many Data Points Should You Use for Your Podcast?
from podcast hosts to third-party tracking and everything in-between, how do you choose?
Earlier this week, it was announced that third-party tracking platform Chartable was deprecating their Podcasts Connect integration with Apple Podcasts on June 1, 2023. Apple charts, reviews, and downloads would still be reported, but Confirmed Plays and Episode Consumption data would be removed, starting May 15, 2023.
For many podcasters, this data in Chartable was a great way to access the soon-to-be-removed information in one place, as opposed to needing to log into Podcasts Connect every time to access it. Especially since you could see reviews, charts, and more in one place, along with Spotify data, and much more.
Now, however, if you want that kind of data for your show, you’ll need to access it via Podcasts Connect directly, since Apple doesn’t (currently) offer this data to podcast hosts.
Perhaps it was to be expected - after all, with Spotify acquiring Chartable, along with ad measurement service Podsights in February 2022, there was the belief by many in the industry that at some stage “data sharing” (by being on the same platform, as opposed to actual sharing of data) between two competitors like Apple and Spotify would come to an end. And this week it (kinda) has.
In fairness, it follows each platform’s wishes to keep users on their turf, whether that’s by data access to demographics or features generally exclusive to that platform. But for the average podcaster, what does this mean - does it mean the need to access even more data points now to get an idea of how your show is doing, or is it something you don’t need to worry about?
The Case for Accessing Multiple Data Points
When it comes to the growth of a podcast, the simplest way is by looking at your analytics.
month-on-month and year-on-year growth
where and how they listen
This is some of the more effective stats that can tell you why, and where, your show is either growing or stalling, and - for the most part - can be found via your podcast host. Some hosts offer more data points than others, or exclusive data - at Captivate, for example, where I’m Head of Podcaster Support & Experience, we offer city-level data to get really granular. We also offer listener consumption, minutes played, minutes replayed, and listener coverage data when you use our web player. Add in campaign tracking links, attribution links, and more, and we do offer a lot of data under the one roof.
But even with the data we offer, there’s some information that podcasters might need when it comes to understanding their audience a bit more that you can only get from the podcast apps like Apple, Spotify, etc.
demographics, including gender and age
followers and subscribers
percentage of listeners that are followers versus not followers
audience interests and personality
Now, given, some of this data might be more than you need for your show, but there’s bound to be some that’s of interest that you might not be able to get from your podcast host. This is where additional data points come into play.
Third-party tracking tools
These are just some of the additional sources you can use, each with varying amounts of data, including really useful data like how many followers are on a certain app.
By using the data your podcast host gives you, and combining with the relevant data the above platforms and more like them give you, you can get as granular as you want when it comes to your audience, podcasts, and opportunities for growth and monetization/sponsorship. Yes, it means accessing multiple accounts, and needing to set up a collected reporting database to keep everything together - but if you feel this is something you really need for your show’s success, the good news is the data is there.
The Case for Reducing the Data Points
Of course, the above is just one side of the coin, albeit one that lets you get super detailed on your show and everything about it. By doing that, it can prepare you better for sponsors and taking your show to that fabled “next level”. But is it necessary? Most definitely not.
If you’re not planning on monetizing your podcast, there’s a good chance you won’t need to know the super granular data about your audience, like household income, living arrangements (family/single/kids), etc. Additionally, you probably won’t need to know their buying intent, their brand loyalty (if any) and other deep dive data that can really help you show a sponsor why they should work with you and your podcast.
If the location of a listener is less important to you than just getting the download/listen in the first place, then you probably don’t need regional data as much as you just need to know your episode was downloaded on Tuesday and that added to your overall monthly numbers.
There are several other reasons why you don’t need to have multiple data points:
you’re more than happy with your podcast host’s analytics
your podcast is purely for your satisfaction - listeners are a bonus
you hate having to access multiple platforms and accounts
you have very finite time on your hands to assign to reports and analysis
All of these are valid reasons, as well as others like them that I know I’m probably missing. It’s your show and you, and you alone, know what you want from it. Sure, others can tell you that “you need to know this otherwise what’s the point?” - and that may be true for them. But it doesn’t need to be true for you.
At the end of the day, whether you got into podcasting for fun or to make something that can earn you money and, perhaps, even give you a full-time career, the end goal is the one you decide for it. What you need to get there is then up to you, and that includes the amount of data you need.
The good news is, there’s lots of choice out there if you want it.