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The Australian Podcast Ranker Is Dumb, Here’s Why…

If you are a subscriber of Australian radio show podcasts, you might have noticed a trend emerge at the second half of 2019; extra bits and highlights — normally under ten minutes — appearing in the same feed where you normally download entire episodes.

Is this for listener experience? Unfortunately, probably not.

“Best Bits” podcast feeds by radio shows were common place in the early years of podcasting. It was a time where internet download limits for users was a consideration for broadcasters and where uninterrupted long form audio content was less prevalent (how will listeners handle listening to so much content without ads and music?!)

At the time, it was great for listeners, as they could pick a feed with smaller highlights, or a feed for long form episode. This was hard for radio shows to manage, which led most shows to provide a single “full episode” feed.

What changed?

In 2019, Commercial Radio Australia and Triton Digital came together to announce The Australian Podcast Ranker. The ranker provides a list of 100 podcasts. At the top of the list, it describes itself as “Australian Podcast Ranker – Top 100 podcasts”.

There’s one obvious problem here. The ranker only has a select group of podcasts on the list. Why?

Well, we first need to understand what Commercial Radio Australia is. They describe themselves as “the national industry body representing Australia’s commercial radio industry. CRA pursues a range of issues on behalf of its member stations.”

Now that you know that, you won’t be surprised that at launch, the CRA Australian Podcast Ranker, only ranked podcasts created by: Nova, Southern Cross Austereo, Australian Radio Network, SEN/Crocmedia, Macquarie Media, News Corp Australia.

That means most podcasts around the world, or even Australia, are not included in the ranker.

If you’re from CRA or Triton, you’re probably screaming at the screen right now.

JOSH, THIS IS A FIRST STEP. A FIRST STEP TO INCREASE CONSUMER AWARENESS AND DRIVE MORE REVENUE INTO THE SPACE.

WE JUST ADDED SHAZ AND TOMMO’S PODCAST!! THEY’RE AS INDEPENDENT AS THEY COME! INDIE FOR LYF!

Yeah, nah.

The Australian Podcast Ranker provides a platform for the radio industry to confuse potential advertisers in believing that they have a majority share of listenership in Australia.

CRA and Triton ARE asking a bunch of podcasters outside of CRA’s member group to join The Australian Podcast Ranker.

But podcasters are rightly declining.

How the Australian Podcast Ranker works:

“The Australian Podcast Ranker is based on a 4-week reporting period. The entities listed are ranked by Average Weekly
Downloads (Monday to Sunday) in accordance with the latest IAB Podcast Technical Measurement Guidelines.”

The ranker is compliant with IAB Tech Lab’s version 2.0. This is a no-brainer in 2020. But if the actual thinking behind the ranker is flawed, being IAB 2.0 doesn’t mean much.

So, what about those extra bits you’ve been seeing in feeds?

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.

By radio shows adding one additional audio file within their feed each day, they are potentially DOUBLING their download/listen number (I’m using download and listen interchangeably here.)

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 Australian Podcast Ranker is based on the basic assumption: Brands only care about how many listens a podcast has.

Based on this, Commercial Radio Australia and Triton Digital would argue that The Australian Podcast Ranker is a reflection of listen numbers.

At The Daily Talk Show, we have our own philosophical opposition to brands just caring about listens. We believe context is important. What about demographics or psychographics?

But let’s take our philosophy off the table.

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.

The Australian Podcast Ranker Promotes Negative Publishing Habits

We have seen over the past six months an obvious shift in the way radio shows deliver their content.

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.

If you are a radio producer, a radio show host, a content director, a digital director — I implore you to vocalise your concern of The Australian Podcast Ranker and the impact it will have on the industry.

Josh Janssen

G’day! I’m Josh Janssen. I combine thinking and doing. Strategy and production. Ideas and execution. Over the past decade, I’ve worked towards understanding the creative process, where I fit in it,... Josh Janssen

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