Introducing Podcast Analytics 

Session 501 WWDC 2018

Podcasts are created and enjoyed by millions of people around the world. With the addition of Podcast Analytics, podcasters can gather actionable and insightful intelligence into how their show is consumed, while respecting the privacy of their listeners. Learn how to interpret and use these new analytics to improve your show.

[ Music ]

Good morning.

Welcome to our [ Audience Applause ]

Thank you.

It’s great to be here.

Thanks everybody for coming.

Welcome to our session on Introducing Podcast Analytics.

I’m James Boggs.

I manage the Business Team for Apple Podcasts and Siri Audio Briefs, and we’ve got a great session planned for you today.

First, I’m going to share some details of our podcast business over the last year, including some very interesting and exciting milestones.

Then I’m going to welcome Anne Wootton from our Engineering Team to the stage, and she’s going to take us through some updates to Podcast app for iOS 12.

After Anne, Alec Reitter will take us through a demo of Podcast Analytics, and then we will finish up with Anne sharing some requirements and taking a look at resources available to podcast makers.

First off, an update on our podcast business.

Well, we’re just shy of the 13th Anniversary of the launch of iTunes 4.9.

That’s the moment when we took podcasts mainstream for the first time, and podcasts have come a long way since then.

Our content catalogue has never been more entertaining, inspiring, and educational, and we’ve never reached more listeners around the world than we do right now.

We’re reaching them with some great programming like Sandra from Gimlet.

This is a brand new program from one of the leading independent podcast networks out of New York, and it stars some really big talent, Kristen Wiig, Alia Shawkat, and Ethan Hawk.

It’s a really fun scripted comedy drama about the inner workings and quirks of a virtual assistant.

Los Angeles-based Wondery is one of adventure capital backed network startups working in podcast today, and last year, Wondery collaborated with the LA Times to produce the thrilling true crime story of a charming but sociopathic con man, Dirty John.

The Hollywood-style production value is powerful investigative journalism and remarkable storytelling, which is just riveting.

It drove this show to the top of the charts in the US several of the markets around the world.

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I recommend it.

It’s a great binge.

And of course, podcast fans everywhere are thrilled and enjoying Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations.

This is the audio instalment of the Queen of Talks iconic interview franchise, and we were overjoyed to have Oprah on Apple Podcast.

These examples are just three of the more than 550,000 shows available today on Apple Podcast.

That’s quite a bit more content to listen to than the original 3,000 programs we launched with back in 2005.

We’re continually refreshing and managing our directory, automatically retiring shows which become technically unavailable or those that run afoul of our directory content guidelines, such as those with spammy content or shows seeking to manipulate our top charts.

Don’t do that.

Just please don’t do that.

At the same time as we’re managing the directory, we’re accepting thousands of new submissions per week.

That way, our catalogue is continually refreshed, and our users around the world can always find something great to listen to.

Amongst those more than 550,000 active shows, we have over 18.5 million episodes of content.

That’s more than 8 million hours of programming.

So, you’d better, better start listening, better start bingeing.

As a reminder, Apple Podcast is available in 155 countries.

That’s not only for the distribution of existing shows but for the submission and acceptance of new programming from each one of those markets.

The Podcast Directory serves an audience in all 155 of those countries with content in more than 100 languages.

So, that means if you’re a Korean native speaker, ex-pat, living in Toronto, you can find some great audio programming from home right in Apple Podcast, and we’re particularly proud of this, particularly proud to have such a diverse catalogue and be one of the easiest ways to reach a global audience for audio programming that there is.

The data from our beta version of Podcasts Analytics shows some remarkable listener affinity and engagement.

We looked at several hundred of our recent top episodes, those with more than 7 days of playback data, and we found some really notable average consumption.

Of course, this data is nonamized [phonetic] and aggregated and a sample, so no personally identifiable information is included, and it’s not a comprehensive statistic but interesting nonetheless.

It shows that once an episode is started, on average, about 80% of that episode content was consumed.

This is great stuff and a real testament to the affinity and engagement the podcast audience has with this high quality content.

Last fall, we successfully integrated more than 50,000 iTunes U collections into Apple Podcasts.

This is content from some of the world’s best educational institutions, including developing iOS 11 apps with SWF from Stanford’s Paul Haggerty.

Naturally, we’re eager for the new instalment of this class series later this year.

As part of Apple Podcast, teachers can now leverage the episode serial ordering support in Podcast app.

They can reach a new broader audience of lifelong learners around the world, and it can distribute the content on tvOS for the first time.

We’re seeing some great use of modern podcast tags, which we introduced last year right here on stage at WWDC.

Many podcasts include trailers to thematically introduce the feel and sound of their show.

This is the best way really to launch a new podcast, and ESPN, for example, makes great use of trailers and, in addition, is amongst the chart shopping shows that uses seasons and bonus content.

This allows Jody Avragon [phonetic] and the team to easily present the thematically different collections of episodes in each season.

In addition to seasons and bonus content, 30 for 30 feeds their super fans with bonus episodes.

These complement the full season episodes.

A best practice regarding bonus content is to make sure that your bonus episodes are tagged appropriately to the full season episodes.

Just want to ensure proper ordering of the content in Apple Podcasts.

And of course, episode number, we’re using this handy reference for your audience inside Podcast app.

We’re also making use of episode numbers that you provide in your RSS feed in Podcast Analytics.

An innovative crop of venture-backed hosting startups has started to grow.

Organizations such as Anchor, with some great new iOS-based creation tools, ART19, which is an easy to use solution for your enterprise podcast needs, and Simplecast, with brand new migration tools and a 2.0 version they just launched.

These next generation mobile optimized podcast creation tools can help make your programming available to the world, and these folks join our lineup of long-standing hosting partners from around the world, including Libson, Megaphone, Omni Studios, and Wushka from Australia, Spreaker, and more.

Check out our resources now for our full list of Apple podcast hosting partners.

HomePod, which arrives soon in Canada, France, and Germany is an awesome podcast machine.

Siri has been optimized for podcast playback, so you can just ask Siri to subscribe to or play your favorite show.

We also offer audio news briefs.

Just ask Siri to play me the news.

We’re proud to be distributing headline news bulletins from some of the best news organizations in the world, including NPR, the BBC, ABC Australia, ESPN, Bloomberg, and more.

You can ask Siri for audio briefs and general news, sports, business, and even get an update on the goings on in music from our own Apple Music Team.

We’re thrilled to celebrate the incredible milestone of 50 billion episode downloads and streams on Apple Podcasts since the launch of the service in 2005.

With over 10.5 billion episode downloads and streaming plays in 2016 and more than 13.7 billion last year, the growth trajectory of the platform is amazing.

We’re also thrilled that the shows that are driving all this consumption are of such a high quality, and it’s a pleasure for us to be able to champion this content on top of our platform.

We celebrate the podcasts that contribute to this 50 billion milestone, and one show in particular, “Stuff You Should Know” from Atlantis How Stuff Works Network, the first podcast, an Apple podcast to exceed 500 million downloads and streams.

Wow! Congratulations to Chuck, Josh, Jerry, and the rest of the team.

Well done!

We’re looking forward to the next half billion downloads and streams.

So, with that business update, let me welcome Anne to the stage to take us through our app.

[ Audience Applause ]

Thanks, James.

Thanks James, and hi.

I’m Anne, and I run Podcasts Engineering at Apple.

Before we dive much deeper into analytics, I want to highlight a few of the latest updates to the podcast app.

As you probably heard in yesterday’s keynote, we are thrilled to be launching podcasts for Apple Watch this fall.

It was one of the most requested features for Apple Watch and for good reason.

Between HomePod and Apple Watch, listening to podcasts has never been easier or more hands free.

We’re also really excited to share that we’ve enhanced our support for chapters in the podcast app.

In the upcoming IRS release, we’re extending full chapter support to MP3s.

In addition to enabling podcasters to segment their episodes into shorter discrete chapters, this functionality also includes chapter art that displays as the play head advances across chapters.

So, podcasters can supplement their audio with visual content.

In the upcoming iOS release, we’re also offering an improved experience for podcast notifications.

The new podcast notifications are grouped across shows and episodes into a single expandable stack that reduces clutter on screen, and we also provide one-tap access to notification settings for all of your shows.

That means if you only want to get notifications for your favorite show, 99% invisible, it’s as simple as toggling the switches on this single settings page.

So, last year, at WWDC, we announced that Apple would be launching Podcast Analytics for the first time.

We were super excited to launch at the end of 2017, and Podcast Analytics is available in beta right now today to anyone with a podcast in our catalogue.

We know that this is a service that was long desired and speaks to a critical need in the industry as evidence by work like the remote audio data spec being spearheaded by NPR.

So, it’s important to us that we provide this anonymous data back to publishers to help them better understand how their audiences are consuming their audio.

And all of the data and analytics is based on the use of the update Apple podcasts app from iOS 11 and iTunes 12.7.

We’re collecting data only from those operating systems, Forward and the Analytic Dashboard includes listening data from HomePod, AppleTV, and will include Apple Watch listening data starting in watchOS 5.

As you know, privacy is really important to Apple, and we are only showing aggregate data of those users who have agreed to use the podcast app.

It is anonymous, not personally identifiable, not tied to your Apple ID, and we only reflect the data points in aggregate that we’ve collected from at least five unique devices.

And it couldn’t be easier to get started.

You don’t need to write any code, you don’t need to use an SDK, and it’s totally free.

If you have a podcast, all you have to do is submit your feed to Podcast Connect after you signed in, get it approved, get some listeners, then check your performance through the Podcast Analytics dashboard.

Analytics reports the data from unique devices that engage with the Podcasts app.

As my colleague, Alec, is about to show us from the Analytics Dashboard, publishers can access an overview that includes tables and charts with data-like unique device counts for a selected period of time, total time listened, time per device, average consumption, top countries, and more.

So, some of you may be familiar with our podcast, The Very Hungry Tourists.

They’re back for season 2, and they even have some new cover art.

Alec is going to take you on a deeper dive of how to get the most out of analytics.

We’re excited to continue providing key listening metrics for this industry, and we are listening to your feedback and continuing to improve the service.

So, thank you.

And with that, I’m going to hand it over to Alec to take us on a tour of Podcast Analytics.

[ Audience Applause ]

Thank you, Anne.

So, podcasters, every day you’re hard at work making great shows and episodes for people to enjoy all over the world.

But how much do you know about your audience?

Do you know how many listeners you have or how much they listen?

Do you know where they are around the world?

What are their favorite episodes?

With Podcast Analytics, Apple offers you transparency into how your show is heard, so you can better understand your listeners and create the best show for your audience.

My name is Alec Reitter, and I’m going to do a walkthrough and demo of Podcast Analytics.

So, let’s get started by heading to the login page.

When you see this bright purple page, you know you’ve made it to the right place.

Here, we’re going to login with the Apple ID that we used to originally submit the podcast feed to the Apple Podcast catalogue.

Now, if you have any trouble, such as you forget your password for your Apple ID, or you don’t know which Apple ID to use, or if after you’ve logged in you don’t see all the shows you expect to see, go to the top right corner of this page and click on that question mark icon.

That will take you to Resources and Help, and there you can find Contact this Link, where people can give you the assistance you need.

In this example, we’re going to use John Appleseed’s login credentials.

So, let’s login now and see what he sees when he enters Podcast Analytics.

So, this is the show’s page.

Here, we see five shows for John’s account.

In this table, there are three metrics, and we’re going to take a look at those in a minute, and all of the data in this table is driven by the date picker, which is in the top right corner.

Right now, it’s set to the last 60 days, and that is the default.

So, let’s take a look at the top row for The Very Hungry Tourists.

Here, we can see the number of unique devices for the last 60 days.

This answers the question, how many listeners do I have?

Here we see 256,000 unique devices.

Next to that, we can answer the question, how much do they listen?

In this case, the total time listened is 327,000 total hours.

Now, if we do a little math, we can find the average, which is the time per device of 1 hour and 17 minutes.

So, this is a very popular show.

It’s doing really well.

So, next, we’re going to switch tabs from the show’s tab to the episodes tab.

Here, we can see a cross-section of episodes across all of the shows in John’s account.

Here, we see a few of the most recently released episodes.

Now, this data table has a lot more information in it, and let’s take a look at the top row.

This is the most recent episode from The Very Hungry Tourists, starting on the right-hand side, we can see the name of the episode, then the name of the show, and now, the third column is the episode column.

If you’re making use of the new tags, like season, episode, and episode type, they’ll show up here.

Following that, we have the release date and then the duration.

So, in this case, it’s a 35-minute long episode.

If, when you login, you don’t see the right number in the duration column, it’s because of what you have in your feed.

We pulled this number straight from your feed.

So, make sure it’s accurate.

Following the duration column, we see three columns that we’ve seen before, except this time, for this episode specifically.

So, we have devices, total time listened, and time per device.

And for the first time, we see average consumption.

This is the last metric in the far right column.

Average consumption is really great because it’s really just another way of looking at time per device.

So, in this case, it’s 28 minute for this 35-minute long episode.

That is 81%.

What’s nice about average consumption is it allows us to compare episodes of differing durations against each other to really get a sense of how healthy each episode is doing.

And from here, let’s click through on the Show Title and look at the show overview for The Very Hungry Tourists.

So, here’s the show overview.

There’s a lot going on here.

Let’s start at the top.

Across the top, we have three headline numbers.

These are the same numbers that we saw before in the shows table, but now we have a mini time series underneath these numbers to give you a sense of how things are doing.

Maybe you can see, just looking at that little line, if your show is getting more or fewer listeners over time.

Now, let’s look beneath this row and take a look at the chart on the left here.

This is the donut chart of total time listened.

So, for all of the time spent listening to your show, were those devices subscribed or not subscribed?

Here, we can see that 83% of that 328,000 total hours of listening was done by a subscribed device versus 17% not subscribed.

So, these are pretty good numbers.

But why might these numbers be different when you take a look at your data?

Well, if you have a very small podcast, one with a very dedicated following, you might not have too many new listeners, but your subscribed count might be above 90, even 95%.

Conversely, if you’re doing a lot of marketing or promotion, or your show is growing rapidly, you’re not subscribed count might be fairly high.

Now, when somebody first starts to listen to your show, obviously, they’re not going to be subscribed most of the time.

But once they hear what you have and they hit that “Subscribe” button, that’s when they end up in the other bucket.

Now, let’s take a look at the chart to the right.

This is the Top Countries by Device.

Here, we can see the top five countries for the show.

As we can see, the United States comprises the majority of the listening at 78%.

If we look at the fifth spot, we see Brazil.

Now, what’s neat about this is that Brazil wasn’t on this top five before, but as Anne said earlier, this is season 2 of The Very Hungry Tourists, and on the first episode of this season, they actually went down to Brazil.

They did some marketing and promotion, and it’s starting to pay off.

So, next, let’s scroll down to the bottom of the page, and here we can see the ten most recently released episodes for the show.

This is the same sort of data table that we saw before for episodes, but this time it’s for a single show.

What’s nice about this is we can compare apples to apples and really see on an episode by episode basis how things are turning out.

Let’s go back up to the top, and we’re going to switch from the Show Overview to add to the Trends tab.

So, here we are in the Trends tab.

This is a Time Series Chart where we can see day by day how many people are tuning into this show.

And again, by default, we’re looking at the last 60 days of data.

In the top left corner, we see that headline number again of 256,000 unique devices, and down below the Time Series Chart we see a table with episode titles.

We can choose up to five separate episodes to compare against one another in the chart above.

So, let’s first now talk about all of the different drop downs that control the chart and what we see in it.

First up, we have a drop-down.

This is the metric that we’re going to chart.

By default, we start off with Unique Devices, or you can also choose to have it render Total Time Listened.

To the right of that, we have another drop-down.

This is what I call the primary filter.

By default here, we’re looking at Episode as the primary filter, but you might want to choose Country or Subscribed Device.

Now, whatever you choose for your primary filter, that’s going to dictate the table beneath the chart.

So, whatever is selected allows you to choose multiple entries to compare against one another.

For example, we could choose Country, and we’ll have countries in that table below.

Whatever filters are not selected from this menu, they move over to the right-hand side of the page in their own drop-downs.

For example, countries or subscription state [phonetic].

For each of these, you can choose up to one filter.

Now, with that, that’s enough talking through slides.

Let’s look at a demo, and I will take you back to that page but in a hands-on fashion.

So, here we are.

We’re in that same view that we saw before of the Trends page.

But now, we can see what happens when I interact with it.

When I move my mouse cursor over the chart, we have this nice data legend with details about the specific point that I’m hovering over.

In this case, I’m looking at May 18th, where 34,000 unique devices tuned in.

And I can go down the page, and I’m going to select a few episodes to chart against each other.

We get this nice colorful view, and as I mouse over, I can also again see the details of what I’m hovering over.

In this case, I can see episode titles and their corresponding counts for those days.

Now, I’m going to go change my primary filter, and I’m going switch it from Episode to Country.

So, this updates the chart once again.

This is the same actual graph that we saw the first time because now, again, we’re looking at all countries.

But I’m going to choose the top five countries and compare those against each other.

Once again, we get this colorful chart.

But in this particular case, because the United States represents so much of the listening for this show, it makes it difficult to see the other countries and how they stack up against each other.

So, I’m actually going to go and deselect the United States.

The chart adjusts, and we can really see with more detail how each country is doing.

And now that I can, I’m going to show you the date picker.

It’s up here on the top right corner.

By default, it sets at the last 60 days.

You can switch that to weeks or a specific month, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

Now, there are lots of combinations that you can make here, but I’m going to move on after this, but I really encourage you to take a look at your shows and see how they’re doing and really play around with this tool.

I think it’s a lot of fun to use.

So, let’s switch over to the Show Episodes tab, and in this view, we can see the top episodes or all episodes for the show, not just the top episodes.

In this case, the show has 11, 11 episodes total.

And now, because all episodes are together in this view, we have the opportunity now to answer some other questions like, what are the most popular episodes?

One way to answer that is by sorting by the Unique Devices column.

When I do that, I can see that, essentially, season 1, episode 4, Barcelona, Barbacoa, that is the most popular by devices, by unique devices.

But maybe you think that it’s actually total time listened that should be the determinant of popularity, so I’m going to sort by that instead, and we see that it’s actually season 2, episode 1 that takes the top spot.

Or for myself, I personally really like average consumption, so I’m going to sort by that, and I can see that at 89%, the trailer is actually the most popular episode, which makes sense because it’s a short episode.

So, now, we’ve actually seen all of the show level views.

Now, I’d like to take you into an episode level view.

So, I’m going to select, I’m going to click through on the title for the most recently released episode.

Here’s Broken Heirloom.

So, it was just released on June 1st.

Front and center, we see a timeline chart.

This shows you the audience size over the duration of the episode; actually, at every five seconds, and when I hover over the chart, I can see a data legend again with details about the specific time in the episode, its total count, and its percentage of the max.

And in the top left corner, we see this headline number for the total number of unique devices.

Something to note about this chart, unlike all the other views on this, in Podcast Analytics, this chart is actually for all time, not just a specified date range.

Now, what’s really nice to see here is that, in this case, most of the people who started this episode actually hung out for the entire duration.

This is a really healthy-looking episode.

And beneath the chart, if I scroll down a little bit, we can see for the last 60 days the metrics for this show, for this episode, I should say.

This gives you a more recent sense of how this episode is doing, not just all time.

And at the very bottom, we see the top ten countries for this episode.

But I’m going to scroll back up and cover two things that I breezed past before.

There is a drop-down menu above that all-time devices number, and when I click on this, I can see that I can also choose Devices or Total Time Listened.

Now, by choosing either of those, it will actually take us into a view which is a time series view, just like the Show Trends page except this time it’s tied specifically to this episode.

And now, the part of this graph that I like the best is actually the ability to play back the audio while seeing how the audience is reacting over the duration of the episode.

And I can do this by going down to the bottom left corner of the graph and hitting this Play button.

Hey there, Hunger Heads, and welcome back to another episode of The Very Hungry Tourists.

I’m Maria Sanchez, Ph.D.

And I’m Johnny Appleseed.

In today’s episode, we’re headed to Brooklyn based Viny’s Pizzeria.

As we’re here, even Johnny’s massive wonder couldn’t get in the way of our culinary adventure.

I’m still blushing from that one.

So, this is actually a very entertaining episode, so if you get a chance, you should definitely check it out.

But like any basic player, you don’t just have to start at the beginning.

You can also click on the timeline to jump ahead to any specific spot in time, and if you want to fine tune, you can grab the play head and scrub around.

So, I’m actually going to scrub to the beginning of what looks like an ad.

And so, just to validate my assumptions, I’m going to move to just before and take a listen.

Five years, you wouldn’t believe it, but in the back there is a big window As the pizza goes in the oven, let’s take a moment to hear about out great sponsors.

Just say your hands and face are smothered with Tahini sauce.

So, what do you do?

Get a paper towel.

Ah, too rough.


Too soft.

What about napkins?

That’s a great idea.

Napkins to you is a new drone delivery service bringing you napkins where and whenever you need them.

Simply open the app, request a drop off, and the closest drone is deployed to your location.

By typing in promo code “Hungry.”

You can have your very own napkins delivered for just $4.99 per month.

Again, that’s Napkins to You.

So, that’s sounds like a really entertaining ad, and it’s too bad that some people decided to skip it, but if you actually do the math from before the ad to the bottom of the ad, it’s only about a 14% drop, and it seems like it’s a temporary drop.

So, it’s doing pretty well.

So, with that, I want to switch back to the slide, and I just want to say that wraps up the walk through and demo of Podcast Analytics for you, and I hope that you were able to learn some things about how this tool works and maybe how it can help you better understand your audience.

And Podcast Analytics is in beta, and we are very interested in your feedback.

So, if you submit your feedback link in the top left corner, right next to the beta badge, we would love to hear what you think about the, about Podcast Analytics, and give us your feedback.

Thank you.

Now, let’s bring it back to Anne.

[ Audience Applause ]

Thanks, Alec.

That was awesome!

So, that’s a walk through Podcast Analytics, which, again, is available to anyone with a podcast in our catalogue.

If you haven’t used it, try it out.

It’ll also be at a lab immediately following this session.

So, come find us.

And that’s where we are today, but really we’ve just begun.

You guys are the reason that we did this, and we love hearing from you.

So, keep it coming.

For example, we know that many of you want an API or a subscription and download data or geographic demographics with more specificity.

We love those suggestions.

We hear you, and we’re working on improving the product in the future.

We are also going to be asking for some things rom you in the future, including new specifications around HTTPS, pubDates, consistent GUIDs, and cover art that meets minimum required resolution.

So, for continued access to Analytics in the future, you will absolutely need to have those four things.

We’re also going to be releasing some guidelines around best practices for audio mastering to give you a sense of the ranges you should be using so that your podcast sounds the best it can on HomePod and within the context of the Apple Podcast catalogue.

We’ll be sharing these requirements with you all.

We will put them in Podcast Resources at Help so you can refer back to them anytime.

And speaking of which, last but not least, I want to remind you about our resources for podcasters.

So, we have a Branding Guide for podcasters.

We also have the Affiliate Program, and then Podcast Resources and Help, which you might remember from the top right corner of the purple screen that Alec showed you.

That features the hosting partner list that James mentioned; some tutorial videos for analytics, and of course, the ability to contact us for help anytime.

For more information, you can also visit this link or, like I said, come join us in the lab, the Apple Podcast Lab, immediately following this session at 10 a.m.

Thanks so much.

[ Audience Applause ]

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