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  • Writer's pictureMatt Cundill

The History of My Podcast Stats

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

I started this podcast back in 2016 just to see what would happen. I used Soundcloud as my podcast host and bought a one year unlimited plan which included stats so I (thought I) was set. I registered the podcast with which would provide some additional breakdowns. In October 2016, I had Mark Ramsey on my show and after we were done recording we got onto the subject of Soundcloud and he mentioned that it was loaded with "bots". (Flag #1)

As 2017 rolled on, there were rumours of a Soundcloud bankruptcy, and the smart speaker craze was on the horizon. By then, Amazon was requesting a secure feed which Soundcloud didn't offer. Podtrac soon issued a memo saying they wouldn't be counting Soundcloud hits anymore because, you know, bots.

In December of 2017, I went in search of a new podcast host and Art19 has been our home ever since. I did a fair amount of reading and discussions with people in the industry about IAB Certification. Basically, this would result in a standardized methodology for compiling podcast stats. I had some questions about "filtering" and "filtering windows" which could be set to 5 minutes, 60 minutes or 24 hours on my host. (Stick with me on this this) It's all about what constitutes multiple listens.

  • With a 5 minute filter window: Say you listen to the first half of my podcast, go make a sandwich and pour a beverage, then come back to listen to the rest of the show. That's two listens.

  • With a 60 minute filter window: Say you listen to part of my podcast, go cut the lawn (and that always takes longer than an hour) and then come back and finish the show. That's two listens. But making a sandwich is still one listen.

  • With a 24 hour filter window: Say you listen to part of my podcast, binge listen Aaron Mahnke's Lore, then resume my podcast a day later. That's two podcast listens. But cutting the grass and making a sandwich are still one listen.

I knew starting 2018, the podcast stats were going to change based on ditching Soundcloud and moving to the more reliable Art19. I opted for the 5 minute window. I heard that 24 was going to become standard down the road and would switch at the right moment. Meanwhile I was still on Podtrac which had shifted towards being compliant with the IAB standards which included a 24 hour filter window, and limiting counts from similar IP addresses - among other things.

So what follows are the Top 10 Downloads for the Sound Off Podcast for 2018. There are two lists - one with a 5 minute Filter Window from my host and another with a 24 hour filter window supplied by Podtrac. As we go through this, you can see why the industry is moving towards the latter in 2019.

From the Host (5 minute Window)

1. Whatever Happened to Matt & Jake

2. Julie Adam

3. Steve Jones

4. Art Vuolo

5. Gruff Gushnowski

6. Randi Chase

7. Raina Douris

8. Sharon Taylor

9. Gerry Forbes

10. Karen Steele

From Podtrac (24 Hour Filter Window)

1. Whatever Happened to Matt & Jake

2. Julie Adam

3. Steve Jones

4. Jax

5. Art Vuolo

6. Larry Gifford

7. (tie) Raina Douris

7. (tie) Randi Chase

9. Gerry Forbes

10. Gruff Gushnowski

It's clear the top 4 podcast episodes are Matt & Jake, Julie Adam, Steve Jones and Art Vuolo. The rest depending upon how the data is being assembled. And this is why the podcast industry is moving to uniform measurement. If you were to ask me how many downloads the podcast has, the answer varies depending on what stats we were looking at. I was quite confident in quoting the 90 day downloads from Podtrac at 6,000 a year ago, but that included the bots and other listens that can't be accounted for properly. This year, I can confidently say the number is 4,974. That doesn't mean we have less listeners; we are just learning to count it all properly.

This brings me to the lesson in all this: When someone supplies you with their podcast stats, ask for the source and if they numbers how they are compiled. If they are using Soundcloud, you know immediately that number is inflated because, you know, bots. Some may also claim their numbers IAB 2.0 compliant, but only the IAB via the host seem to be able to certify that at this juncture.

(And I'm not here to question Toronto Mike's number of 3 million downloads in 2018, just the way he arrived at the number. For the record our number is 18,887 on Podtrac and 23,823 via the Host)

As of today, we have switched the host metrics to the 24 hour filtering window which means if the same number of people listen to the show next year, we will be reporting a number that is 20 percent lower. And we are fine with that. Embrace the truth, embrace the data.

After all, Just because someone paused the podcast to make a sandwich or cut their lawn should not translate to an additional listener for us.


A few other fascinating stats to pass along:

The episode I recorded with Dave Wheeler in November 2017, was the 11th most downloaded in year, largely due to a spike in July when he was fired from his job for incendiary remarks about transgenders, re-emerging the following week with a podcast. I credit spike to people looking for the podcast with the remarks, or the new podcast which originated on Soundcloud and took some time to get to Apple Podcasts.

Apple offers up consumption stats: So if you are using iOS 11 or greater and listening to podcasts on the Apple Podcasts app, then your consumption is being sent back to Apple. Our episodes with Mandy James and Jenna Mosher received consumption rates over 100%. Meaning some people listened more than once and a lot of people listened to the whole show.

We checked our Spotify Numbers too. I won't get into how all that compiled outside of you need to listen to at least 60 of the show for it to count, but our episode with musicologist Alan Cross from 2 years ago has 10 times more listens than the next leading episode. So it's clear that people are searching Alan's Playlists and hitting on our show and listening to it. Which is cool.


Finally, if your podcast is on Soundcloud, get off it. There are plenty of reputable podcast hosts out there who will give you legitimate metrics. Soundcloud is not a podcast first company, they do not offer a secure feed and in time, Apple said they would require their podcasts to have one.

We can recommend you go to Libsyn, Spreaker, or Blubrry, because we have used them before. On a recent podcast episode, Rob Walch from Libsyn provided some truly excellent reasons for not using Anchor, Squarespace or Soundcloud.


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