Unique Listeners: A New Metric for the Podcasting Industry

3 min read

At Simplecast, our mission has always been to help podcasters become more successful—and we believe one of the ways to best accomplish this is getting to know your audience through the most in-depth analytics in podcasting. And this is why we’re excited to announce an all-new report for Simplecast, and a much-improved report for the industry: say hello to Unique Listeners.

We’ve been working to define (and refine) this metric for a while now. Along the road to releasing podcasting’s leading analytics platform, we created this little thing we call a “fingerprint” to anonymously identify unique listener devices. Through machine learning, we’re able to know if those devices have listened to a specific podcast and episode before. This eureka moment has kicked open the doors for some exciting things ahead, the first of which we’re announcing right here.

The short of it: Unique Listeners counts the individual listener devices which download or stream your show. Pretty neat, right?

So how does Unique Listeners relate to downloads? If you’ve used Google Analytics at all, you know how important it is to track both your page views and your unique visitors. Your page views tell you how many pages of your website have been viewed, and your unique visitors tell you how many individual people have looked at your site. In this case, your Downloads are your page views, and your Unique Listeners are your unique visitors. Not that it happens, but without unique visitors, all 5,000 of your website’s monthly page views could be one single person clicking through your entire site, over and over. Neither metric is more important than the other, and both are crucial to tracking success, but analyzed together they help contextualize each other.

To overemphasize: Unique Listeners is not a replacement for your Downloads metrics. Your downloads are still your downloads, and those numbers still stand true. No need to update your media kit, tell your advertisers, or take back that celebratory tweet. And, just like how unique visitors evolved website analytics, Unique Listeners will evolve podcast analytics.

So what can Unique Listeners tell you? Let’s say you have a podcast where your entire show’s last 7-day Downloads are triple your last 7-day Unique Listeners. You can now confidently say that your audience is indeed listening to more than one episode on average—three, in fact.

Additionally, if you have access to custom reports for the Unique Listeners in Audience, you can analyze an entire show or individual episode and set a timeframe: a month, a week, or all the way down to one specific hour of one specific day (really handy for the first few hours of an episode launch). This additional info unlocks even more interesting insights — it shows what amount of your audience is going back to listen to parts of your episodes again—which is a wonderful thing for a potential advertiser to hear!

Sound crazy? How can you trust this data? Rest easy knowing that your new Unique Listeners metric is being inspected under a microscope by a third party auditor as part of our process of achieving Simplecast’s IAB Certification.

You know what else is neat? Security and anonymity. In our efforts to bring more analytics and data points to podcasters of all sizes, we also take the security of your listeners very seriously. When we talk about a listener fingerprint or device identification, we realize these things may sound a little, well, sketchy. So here’s the facts: Simplecast does not collect or store any specific information about your listeners, other than publicly available user agents like device type, app, and IP address. Anything else that might be used to track a listener from one episode or show to another is completely, 100% anonymized from the very first fingerprint. Not even we can see this data, because it doesn’t exist. Data and understanding is important, but not at the cost of personal security. It’s important to us because it’s important to you.

So, how long do you have to wait? How’s just a few days sound? You can expect to see your new Unique Listeners data rolling out on Tuesday, May 7. And for our customers on Essential and Growth, you’ll be able to generate complete reports on this data since the start of your podcast on Simplecast, and it’s retroactively IAB compliant all the way back to July 2017.

Got questions in the meantime? Let us know! We can’t wait to hand this over to you. And we’re just getting started.