Is BTR suppressing my numbers to get more money from advertisers? We have the same interests in heart as the hosts do when they view their content and want to monetize. While we do not have any on site monetization programs, we want users to be able to monetize their content to the fullest of their abilities.
Why are my listener numbers so much lower that my total listens?
If you notice a huge shift in your numbers when looking at the organic listens, it is not that your numbers have dropped, but that the bot filters are now better at catching invalid traffic and this is the real picture on your human listenership.
Why bother to filter out the bots if by including them they count towards higher numbers for my show and makes my show look better?
There are two reasons why it is detrimental to your show to include bot traffic in your metrics:
By including bot traffic, the metrics you see will not be an accurate reflection of the quality of your work, meaning sometimes, you will see sudden spikes and dips (as is typical of bot driven traffic) that have nothing to do with real consumer interest, your promotional efforts, or the make up of your show. This makes it very very hard to make adjustments and experiment to improve your show.
2. Podcast measurement has been a DIY, wild west industry unhinged from the rest of digital media for awhile now, and this is partly why none of the players in the space to date have been able to meaningfully move the industry forward. However, now, as more advertisers begin to come into our realm, their standards for digital measurement are increasingly becoming standards for the industry. BTR is part of the Internet Advertising Bureau’s Podcast Technical Working group, that is currently working on defining new podcast measurement standards. Because of the deep digital media experience of our new team, we were able to anticipate many of these standards and embark on our new data platform before this group even got together, and as a result the design of our new system is very much in alignment with those baseline specifications (along with some innovative elements of our own!!).
Moreover, with the ad side maturing and advertisers demanding and gaining deeper visibility into download and delivery performance, we are anticipating that podcast advertisers like those in the rest of mature digital media, will soon be applying much more stringent traffic verification technologies on their end as well based on the emerging IAB standards coming out in the next few months. Shows and platforms that over-report their human traffic, will lose credibility and be marginalized in the coming year if they fail to shift to more honest and accountable measurement methods.
Does this mean BTR has NEVER done ANY bot filtering?
BTR has always done some filtering in the same way that most of the podcast hosting platforms out there do this work, but the moment our GM, who had designed and managed large scale data management and science platforms for mature digital media properties before, joined BTR in 2014, it became painfully clear that that these methods not just at BTR, but in the industry as a whole were woefully primitive and inadequate.
If I change to another platform will this change my numbers?
If you go somewhere else that reports higher numbers, it will not be because you are somehow getting higher numbers, but that their classification methods are much less standards based or stringent. Using higher numbers that are inflated with bot traffic does little to help you augment your show because you will not get good feedback on whether things you did are working or not. Inflated numbers will also prevent your show from building trust with advertisers. The podcast industry is moving towards increasingly stringent measurement standards in the coming months. We had anticipated this two years back and worked on this system in time for this next phase of the industry.
My organic listens and engagement are really low, should I give up?
These metrics are designed specifically to help hosts augment their efforts using feedback loops that were previously not available. Now that you have these metrics on hand, it would make it EASIER for you to test things with your show to grow your listenership because you will now see more clearly what worked and what didn’t.