The Science and Art of Podcast Audience Reach
Size, quality, and relevance of a podcast audience.
The Science of Podcast Audience Reach
HOW DO I KNOW HOW BIG A PODCAST AUDIENCE IS?
It can be incredibly challenging to pin down the exact size of a podcast’s audience. This challenge is even true for podcast hosts and creators. If podcasts were only published on YouTube, it would be easy. We would be able to see all the subscribers and views each video gets. But podcasts are published and distributed differently.
Here is how the world of podcasting works. Podcasts are distributed through RSS feeds which is an open-sourced syndication platform that anyone can access and redistribute. This is why you see so many different podcast players. e.g. Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox, Overcast, and more. There are 20+ iOS and Android podcast players. Figuring out how many subscribers and plays each podcast player generates is near impossible.
PODCAST AUDIENCE DATA FOR PODCAST CREATORS
Podcasts hosting platforms give podcast producers a pretty good idea of audience engagement. Most hosting platforms will give a breakdown of audience KPIs including:
- Episode downloads
- Episode streams and sources
- Audience geolocation
And depending on the podcast hosting platform’s features and upgrades you might also see
- Audience demographics
These numbers however, even for podcast producers are highly variable and frustratingly hard to verify. These numbers are also unpublished to the general public. So, if it’s hard for the podcast creators to measure their listener count, how can we gauge a podcast’s listenership – from the outside looking in?
PODCAST DATA FOR PODCAST LISTENERS
Podcast listeners have no way to see the size of any podcast’s audience. What we do have are a couple of KPIs that will give us a ball-park of the audience size, quality, and relevance.
A common way for podcast apps to demonstrate podcast audience engagement is by offering a place for people to rate and review the podcasts published on each platform. The amount and velocity of podcast ratings and reviews play into the platform’s recommendation algorithm.
Podcast platforms promote shows that get a lot of ratings / reviews quickly and consistently. Podcast hosts know this and sometimes incentivize their audiences to review their show. Therefore we assume that higher numbers of reviews = higher audience count.
Just how high? We will explore that a little later.
Because podcast platform algorithms assume that an engaged podcast audience is a good indication of podcast quality, podcast chart rankings are reflective of these numbers too.
Subscribers, downloads, and streams also contribute to a podcast’s chart rankings. All of these data points are ranked by the podcast category. Here are a couple of tools you can measure podcast rankings.
Each podcast publishing platform has variable novelty in their podcast keyword search capability but they all follow Apple Podcast’s lead when it comes to Categories and Podcast Subcategories. Here are Apple Podcast’s Categories
The podcast’s social media following is an additional public-facing data point that gives us an indication of a podcast’s size. Most podcasts have branded social media profiles. Additionally, the podcast show host may also have personal social media profiles. It’s common to see branded profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TicToc, and Linkedin.
Many of the larger podcasts have also done a great job building massive email lists to connect with their loyal listeners. Unfortunately, though the number of their email subscribers is typically not disclosed unless they are interested in advertising dollars.
The Art of Podcast Audience Reach
At Kitcaster, it’s our business to understand the size, quality, and relevance of a podcast’s audience. As we have outlined above, there are literally dozens of data points to consider.
For a podcast audience to be relevant for a particular guest the show has to be professional in quality, an engaging interview and have reach.
We knew that it would be near impossible to get an exact podcast audience number; so we decided to do some research to see if we could find a correlation between podcast subscribers, downloads and podcast rating and reviews.
In other words, “Is there a relationship between the podcast data creators see and the podcast data listeners see.?”
We reached out to podcast hosts/creators to find out.
After speaking to podcast hosts willing to share their monthly download numbers, we discovered there was a correlation between ratings/reviews and audience size, in some cases.
After some trial and error we found that if we take the number of ratings and reviews from Apple and Google and multiply times 179 we get a pretty good estimate to the number of monthly downloads.
For the sake of conservative estimation, Kitcaster uses a multiple of 100. This also makes it a lot easier to do the math in our heads as well. 😆
This is the formula we use to determine audience size at Kitcaster:
(Apple Podcast Ratings & Reviews + Google Podcast Ratings & Reviews) x 100 + (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube subscribers for host and podcast) + any additional audience metric we may discover. eg. email list
We are always in pursuit of better data but for now, our simple formula has been a great tool to help our clients secure hundreds of worthy podcast placements.