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A Public-Facing Ranker, by Edison

Edison Research, the measurement firm of Infinite Dial fame (which, by the way, returns next month), has joined the league of market research providers that are publishing public-facing rankings of major podcasts.

Yesterday, the firm released those rankings for the first time, which they claim is the industry’s first “all-inclusive” top ten podcast ranker. Covering the third and fourth quarters of 2019, here are the slots from largest to tenth-largest: The Joe Rogan Experience, This American Life, The Daily, My Favorite Murder, Crime Junkie, Stuff You Should Know, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, Serial, Pod Save America, and Radiolab.

If you were to compare Edison’s findings with Podtrac, i.e. the only other major publicly-available podcast ranker up right now, you’d notice considerable differences, like the absence of The Joe Rogan Experience, as well as some differences in order.

Chalk these splits up to methodology. To begin with, Edison’s target of measure is “percentage of weekly podcast consumers (18+) that have listened to a show during a sample period,” as opposed to downloads, and to get that, the firm uses the same survey-oriented approach that is used in the Infinite Dial studies, where data is gathered from a respondent pool that can be extrapolated. “From a research standpoint, we don’t ask the respondents to do anything more than enter in the names of the podcasts they listened to [over] the last week,” said Tom Webster, Edison’s SVP of Research. “They just type them in. We do all the work.”

I’m told that the sample involves over 4,000 people, and that the sampling process happens continuously — as in, every day — as means to cover differences in publishing style or schedule.

Because the data gathering methodology focuses on the audience side, Edison’s approach captures any podcast that can be cited in the response, regardless of whether the podcast comes from an Edison client or not. Which means that Edison’s ranker doesn’t suffer from the same problem of publisher opt-outs as Podtrac, as we’ve discussed several times before. (This is probably why you won’t see stuff like The Joe Rogan Experience, along with original show portfolios from publishers like Stitcher and Spotify, on the Podtrac list.)

The launch of Edison Research’s comes as Triton Digital, the EW Scripps-owned digital audio technology and services provider, prepares to roll out its own publicly-facing podcast reports next month.

Anyway, friendly reminder as always: you shouldn’t necessarily take any one of these reports, whether it’s from Edison or Triton Digital or Podtrac, as the Final Word on the shape of the podcast universe. Consider the aggregate picture.