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Gathering Listener Data, in ways Modern and Traditional

Nielsen, the global data and measurement firm, is launching something called the Podcast Listener Buying Service, which aims to give participating clients — i.e. participating podcast publishers — insights into the buying habits of audiences affiliated with the listening bases of specific shows.

Following up on a development that I linked to yesterday: you might have heard that Nielsen, the global data and measurement firm, is launching something called the Podcast Listener Buying Service, which aims to give participating clients — i.e. participating podcast publishers — insights into the buying habits of audiences affiliated with the listening bases of specific shows.

The service comes from Nielsen Scarborough, its market research arm that comes out of a joint venture between Arbitron Inc. and Nielsen parent company VNU Media. Participating publishers, at this point in time, include iHeartMedia, Cadence13, Midroll-Stitcher’s advertising arm, Westwood One and cabana.

Of particular interest to many is the methodology with which Nielsen Scarborough goes about its data collection business. Ashley Carman, writing for The Verge, has a great overview of what that involves:

Nielsen’s podcast survey will be conducted with 30,000 people twice a year. As clients pay to join, they can then have their shows included in the next survey batch.

Even if a company doesn’t list their show on the survey, the data could still be useful. A network that primarily focuses on true crime shows, for example, can look at what brands are purchased by people who said they liked shows within the genre. Armed with this information, they could go to advertisers and point out that their fans likely know their brand and are interested in what they’re selling. It’s not necessarily direct information, but it’s more precise than what podcasters have access to now.

Sure, it’s old-school, but if it can be helpful, hey, it’s helpful. When stranded in a desert, I’m not going to proud of what I’m drinking.

Here’s the broader context, the way I see it: there’s a race going on between technology platforms and non-platform-owned podcast publishers to close the audience analytics gap in order to pull more advertising dollars into the ecosystem. The stakes for publishers are pretty high, I reckon — the opportunity to establish some control of the stories they’re able to tell about who listens to them. Falter here, and that control gets ceded to platforms they’ll have to negotiate with. And we’ve seen that story play out before.