Even a Radio Guy Admits, Download Numbers Are Real Metrics

Midroll’s Director of West Coast sales Allyson Marino brought an article from CBS DC to my attention, titled “Comedian Marc Maron’s ‘WTF’ Tip of the Spear to Podcast Revolution.”

In the lead up to his interview with Maron, writer Chris Lingebach takes a look at audience metrics, comparing podcasting to radio.

He notes that Arbitron (now Nielsen) ratings have been the standard for measuring radio audiences. This system, he writes,

“at best, delivers advertisers a one-sheet of age, race, and other demographic breakdowns of who’s listening and at precisely what time of day.

“But the truth of the matter is, the vehicle by which Arbitron delivers those ratings has been inconsistent, with major shifts in its delivery method in recent years, leaving advertisers weary, wondering ‘WTF are we purchasing?’”

So, what does Lingebach say is a better solution?

“Something more tangible are real, honest, download numbers.”

That’s what podcasts have. (We also have some good demographic data, too.)

Marc emphasizes these “hard download numbers” in his interview, as well, describing how these numbers are the bedrock for attracting advertisers to his podcast.

It is surprising to have this argument come from a writer who works for a radio station–106.7 FM The Fan in Washington, DC–which ostensibly relies heavily on ratings. However, we should also expect that he knows of which he speaks.

Radio ratings are sample-based, using well-established statistical methods to estimate how many people in a market are listening to a station at any given time. While they are reasonably accurate and widely accepted, ratings are not an exact measure of every listener tuned in to the radio.

On the other hand, podcast download numbers are a real measure of every single listener who downloaded an episode. Now, to be fair, download metrics are not perfect either. But it’s reasonable to argue that they’re no less perfect than radio ratings.

Compared to radio, podcasting is the new kid on the block. It’s understandable that it takes a while for the industry to get comfortable with a new medium and its metrics. At the same time, we’d like advertisers to see that podcasting’s measurement strategies are different, not inferior.

On top of that, as seen in our advertiser case studies, podcast ads bring additional value to the table. This is why Sling Media, for instance, saw 2 – 3 times more engagement with podcast ads than radio ads.

Give podcast ads a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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