While Apple was the innovator that helped bring podcasts to popular culture, many podcast producers are saying that the company isn’t doing enough to help support the medium. On the other side, some podcast producers want to keep the podcast world just the way it is.
It’s All About Podcast Listener Data
In April 2016, Apple met with 7 top podcast professionals who aired their grievances about how they feel Apple has supported them and what they feel they need to progress. Some podcast producers complain that if they want any chance to be featured, they must work with one Apple employee. Another complaint is that podcast sharing on social media platforms is far behind in technology.
But the main fight is about listener data, a crucial element to monetizing a podcast that professionals say Apple isn’t providing enough of.
Right now podcasters get less than basic information about their listeners. Besides knowing where they rank and how many downloads each episode has accumulated, podcasters have no deep data that could help them target new listeners or attract new advertisers. Stats provided by Apple currently don’t even include information on whether listeners stuck through a whole episode or even if they listened at all post-download. As a podcast marketer, this could be extremely crippling. To put it in perspective, an advertiser on Google AdWords can not only target potential customers based on their interest or purchasing habits, but also display ads at will to any person that has ever visited their site.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior VP of Internet Software ad Services reinforced Apple’s dedication to podcasting in a recent statement to the New York Times.
“We have more people than ever focused on podcasting, including engineers, editors and programmers. Podcasts hold a special place with us at Apple.”
The Case For No Change
While new listener data features would bring a boost to potential podcast revenue, there are many that are making the case to keep things just the way they are. The fear is that by Apple adding new features that increase revenue for podcasters, there could be more regulation for a platform that is generally open and free at the time being.
Marco Arment, a podcast app creator and podcast producer warns to be careful what you wish for in his latest blog post.
“It’s completely decentralized, free, fair, open, and uncontrollable by any single entity, as long as the ecosystem of podcast-player apps remains diverse enough that no app can dictate arbitrary terms to publishers (the way Facebook now effectively controls the web publishing industry).”
Since podcasts are free and Apple doesn’t make any direct revenue from them, some would say Apple doesn’t have any incentive to provide the extra data features. Some feel that could change if some of the podcaster’s demands are met, leading to sharing revenue from podcasts with Apple.