4 things to look out for in the revamped Australian Podcast Ranker tomorrow

Former Editor & Content Director

The Australian Podcast Ranker has been overhauled, with new metrics and methodology. Will this mean there are different winners and losers when the Ranker is released tomorrow? And will the shake-up get some reluctant podcast publishers across the line and see them participating in the opt-in system? Here are four things you need to know when digesting the numbers tomorrow morning. 

Who will be #1?

From tomorrow onwards, the Australian Podcast Ranker will order podcasts according to reach, rather than the number of downloads.

This is likely to benefit podcasts which have a larger unique audience, even if they put out fewer individual pieces of content throughout the measurement period.

It may also disadvantage some podcasts – in particular those of radio shows – which have sometimes been accused of “gaming” the system by putting out multiple ‘mini’ podcasts in a bid to attract more downloads from the same number of listeners.

In the most recent Ranker, LiSTNR’s Hamish & Andy reclaimed the #1 spot with four episodes for the measurement period. Audioboom’s Casefile True Crime was #1, with two episodes. Third spot, however, was radio’s The Kyle & Jackie O Show, which put out 110 pieces of content throughout July. In the measurement period, The Kyle & Jackie O Show was on air on radio for 22 separate days.

Last month’s Australian Podcast Ranker 

The iHeartPodcast Network’s Stuff You Should Know and Casefile True Crime have also both spent time at the top of the Podcast Ranker this year.

So come tomorrow morning, keep an eye on whether Hamish & Andy reign supreme when it comes to reach as well as downloads, if a former #1 podcast returns to the top of the podium, or if it resets the game completely.

More numbers = more winners?

Despite the potential impact of shifting from downloads to reach, Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) and Triton Digital will now release the actual download figures as well as the reach numbers for each podcast. Previously, we were just given a list of rankings, without the actual numbers.

The industry body said this will give media buyers more transparency as they plan their audio advertising campaigns, and will also enable brands to use different metrics to achieve different campaign outcomes.

CRA CEO, Joan Warner, noted the extra information will also give podcast creators more options for monetising their content.

“This new level of transparency will provide consistent and universal audience reach and frequency metrics for podcasting, and will boost advertiser confidence in investing in this channel,” she said.

So while tomorrow may see some dramatic changes to certain podcasts’ placings within the Ranker, even the podcasts which tumble may have more options for commercialisation and monetisation – especially because media agencies love data and numbers.

Plus, the use of two metrics will enable more podcasts to market themselves as ‘winners’ as they choose which one suits them best and which tool they care about.

Everyone’s a winner, as they say.

Some notable absences

The improvements and changes to the Australian Podcast Ranker may be welcomed by some who have previously been critical of its functionality, however it’s still far from the ultimate goal of having all major podcast publishers involved.

Titles from the podcast powerhouse Mamamia still don’t appear on the ranking each month, nor do those from the ABC.

Mamamia Out Loud has achieved numerous download and listener milestones, but doesn’t appear on the Ranker 

Radio Today notes titles from DM Podcasts, including Chat 10, Looks 3, Betoota Daily News Bulletin, The Betoota Advocate Podcast and So Dramatic! also no longer appear on the Ranker.

The titles’ last appearance appears to be in March, when Chat 10, Looks 3 was #29 and the Betoota Daily News Bulletin was right behind it at #31.

Radio Today understands Diamantina Media has pulled out of the Ranker, at least temporarily. Given the network has recently switched from ARN’s iHeartPodcast Network to the NOVA Entertainment Podcast Network, Radio Today wouldn’t be surprised to see some titles reappear in the coming months as part of the new deal.

Acast Australia also remains absent from the Ranker.

Local content director Guy Scott-Wilson, hasn’t been backwards in coming forwards in his critique of the Ranker in its previous form, saying there was still quite a way to go before content partners are able to extract much value from it.

“Audience engagement is super important and [so is context]. That is really why we get briefed by agencies for podcasts. They want to be in an environment that’s relevant, that’s targeted and has the right audience. And I think that’s probably a slight limitation for the Ranker in its current form. It’s kind of a static PDF. It’s updated monthly with no real change in the top 10 or 20 shows month to month. It’s impossible to filter by category. So it does make it, I think, in its current form, a pretty average buying tool for media agencies,” he said.

“So from our perspective, there’s a fair way to go before our content partners will extract much value from it.”

Triton Digital has previously refused to be drawn on the criticism.

Will radio shows fare better or worse?

Critique from podcast natives, including the likes of Acast and DM Podcasts, often centres around the Ranker’s perceived benefit for radio networks moreso than standalone podcast companies.

Acast’s Scott-Wilson previously noted the Ranker appeared to hold more value for traditional radio networks which have started to make the push into podcasting.

“Obviously there is that value in demonstrating your scale across your network, and I think it does a good enough job of that for the radio networks,” he said.

This sentiment was not new, with host of The Daily Talk Show, Josh Janseen, hitting out at the Ranker last year, claiming it provides a platform for the radio industry to confuse potential advertisers into believing they have a majority share of listenership in Australia.

“Well, if the Australian Podcast Ranker is based on average weekly downloads, the aim of the game is getting more downloads. How do you do that? You release more content,” he said last year.

The Kyle & Jackie O Show puts out a huge amount of podcast content 

“By radio shows adding one additional audio file within their feed each day, they are potentially doubling their download/listen number.

“This means that if you want to appear higher in the ranking, your best bet in getting to number one is to flood subscribers with best bits. Something that isn’t great for listener experience.”

The focus on downloads and excessive pieces of individual content was bad for the industry, measurement and the listener experience, he said.

“Let’s answer this basic question: Does the Australian Podcast Ranker help brands, podcasters and listeners with a win-win-win situation? Not at all,” he said.

“You’ll notice that independent creators didn’t say much about the Australian Podcast Ranker launch. Our silence was based on the little attention we think the ranker deserves.

“However, now that it is directly impacting the way radio shows are publishing podcast content — to what we believe is at the detriment of listeners — we thought we should say something.”

ARN’s head of digital audio, Corey Layton, however, noted in recent months that measurement in the space is “radically improving”.

“I think the Ranker is a great start, and is definitely driving the whole industry forward. The more publishers that join the Ranker, the easier it is for an agency to be able to understand everyone on an equal playing field,” he said.

“Each publisher often goes out and goes ‘Here’s our numbers’, ‘Here’s our numbers’, but the Ranker definitely talks the same language and makes it easier for an advertiser to be able to decipher ‘What are the right podcasts for me to be in?’ be it big ones or the niche ones. And I think over time the Ranker will continue to enhance and improve to be able to help guide clients in much better ways.”

And perhaps foreshadowing the move away from downloads, NOVA Entertainment’s head of podcasts and digital content, Rachel Corbett, said podcasts’ ability to tap into niches and connect with audiences meant relying solely on these numbers was “silly”.

“I think it’s great if you’re growing and your podcast has a lot of downloads, that’s fantastic, but there’s other value measurements, I think, that can make something a really high-performing part of your network, even if it’s not the highest downloaded show that you have,” she said.

She added: “I think one of the benefits of podcasting is that the power is really around context, rather than reach. Like it’s wonderful that we’re getting a lot more reach and that numbers are growing and all that kind of stuff, but if you get a client in the right environment, you don’t actually need as many numbers to have decent results.”

So given that much of the critique of the Podcast Ranker in its previous form centres around its elevation of catch-up radio shows, keep an eye on how they fare tomorrow, and if the updates and improvements to the Ranker get those reluctant publishers on board.

So far, the update has been welcomed by publishers and buyers alike.

News Corp Australia’s general manager of commercial networks, Ainslee O’Brien, who was also a member of the CRA Podcast Committee, voiced her support for the evolution.

“News Corp has been a supporter of the Australian Podcast Ranker since its inception,” she said. “It is the only third-party verified source of podcast consumption in Australia and this next step will allow buyers and sellers to use the same language and provide their richer data clients are looking for.”

And John Lynch, fellow Podcast Committee member and head of out-of-home and audio partnerships at media agency buying group Omnicom Media Group, also supported the change.

“The updated Podcast Ranker allows agencies and clients to make more informed decisions around investment into podcasting,” he said. “We welcome the changes and believe that it can only help to instil greater confidence in this growing area to the benefit of the industry.”

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