All posts by Todd Cochrane

Great Inexpensive Podcast Album Art



If you have not heard of Fiverr.com before and your a podcaster you need to listen up. In the graphics department I have no skills, so I am always outsourcing new album art. Well Fiverr.com is a website where you can get album art, banners and a whole bunch of other cool stuff done for a Fiverr $5.00.  I want to show you the album art series that have been delivered to me over the past few. If you shop around you can get designers to make you multiple designs in a single order.

I am going to post a few here but you can visit this link to see the full series.

new_media_show_1bGNCgadget_Professor_2


Two Principles to Building a Successful Podcast



This October I will celebrate Geek News Central’s 10th anniversary and my one-thousandth episode. Throughout the past decade, I have enjoyed watching podcasting take off and I am proud to be an integral part of its growth. My success with my own show is a direct result of practicing what I preach and following two principles each and every episode.

First I want to provide some background. When I started GNC I did so with an explicit goal to have the show profitable in 24 months, and to be a full-time podcaster when I retired from the Navy in October 2007.

My initial focus was exposure and profitability, which resulted in me launching a tech network in January 2005, writing the first podcast book, “Podcasting: Do-It-Yourself Guide,” released in May 2005 through Wiley Publishing, GoDaddy sponsoring my show in July 2005 and doing the first multishow network sponsorships in August 2005. All this led to the formation of RawVoice / Blubrry.

There are many ancillary stories that go with each of the above events, so while all of that was happening I remained focused on two principles for my podcast.

1. Deliver value to my audience each and every episode, respecting their time, have fun doing it and, most importantly, maintain my integrity by being 100 percent open and honest.
2. Administratively owning, controlling and building my brand.

While Principle No. 1 is obvious, I want to give you top level insights on why owning, controlling and building your brand is critical.

The obvious thing in owning and controlling your brand is perception. If a listener cannot find you on the Web, and or your show is buried on some third-party site, you have a strike against you. Today’s listener will question whether you’re serious and worthy of her or his time.

The solution is that you must have a permanent Web presence that you own and/or control. The first thing to do that is to buy a .com and put up a WordPress site. Invest in some graphics and give your site the flair and personality “you” choose, not someone else’s vision. Invest time in your site making it a valuable destination for your audience and future audience.

For nearly 10 years my audience has come to GeekNewsCentral.com to get the latest tech news and most recent episodes. It is the main hub. I syndicate my show externally, but all links lead back to my site, my brand and my content.

The second thing is never, ever allow anyone to control your RSS feed. This is your intellectual property. You do not need FeedBurner and you do not need to give third parties control of your feed. I have been evangelizing this since the beginning. My RSS feed URL on my site has not changed in 9 plus years.

I am sure some get sick of me saying this, yet for many who did not listen, they often tell me later “I should have followed your advice.” By having your own .com / website you can easily control your brand, feed and grow content which will be indexed by search engines..

Third, choose wise alliances. Put up your defenses when you hear the word exclusive coming out of anyone’s month. Exclusive often means loss of control.

There is no way I would ever sign an exclusivity agreement, and those we work with are not asked to either. It is one of the primary principles of my company and my show. If you are thinking of doing so, here are the things that I would consider a minimum requirement for exclusivity:

  • Guaranteed minimum monthly revenue
  • 30-day termination clause
  • Opt-out rights for inappropriate advertisers
  • Advertising contract transparency, aka auditable on demand
  • Revenue share percentage
  • 100-percent show ownership

 

There is significant history for me saying this, we have seen several examples where content creators have lost their show and audiences, are forced to run inappropriate advertising, given gag orders, and a host of other really nasty stuff. Always seek a lawyer to review any exclusive contracts.

Today, I speak worldwide on new media, I hold podcasting bootcamps for corporations, and do consulting and interact with podcasters, advertisers and everyone in between on a daily basis. But in the end, the two principles above have been the difference between the success or failure of my show.

I want you to grow your show and have fun doing it. Building a successful show is a lot of work, so stack the deck in your favor by following the two principles above.

Finally, I hope you will tune into the New Media Show and get great insights from successful podcasters. Everyone has something to share; my goal and that of co-host Rob Greenlee is to provide you with new ideas. We think it is the most insightful show in the podcasting space, and we do it just for you. Check us out at NewMediaShow.com.


Digging Deep into Mobile Podcast Statistics



Summer is here and we’re all headed out and about, enjoying the sun. With children out of school, many of us will be going on summer vacations and will be mobile more than ever. Five years ago, June, July and August meant a slow-down period for podcast listenership. That’s not the case anymore because folks no longer need to be at home to download a podcast and sync it to listen. The summer drop in listeners has largely been mitigated by better connectivity.

Today, I am going to give you some global statistics on how media is being consumed — specifically on mobile devices — and where apps break out. I will also touch on the players out there that do not allow us to count them.

I want to emphasize that your show might not be tracking as I outline below; each show is a little different and will likely have a different top 10 depending on where they are telling their audience to go access the show. My show, Geek News Central, still tracks heavier on Web consumption because my blog has new non-podcast content on it daily.

In almost all cases, though, here is how global distribution looks today from top to bottom:

1. Podcatchers
2. Mobile Applications
3. Mobile Phone Web Browsers
4. Web Browsers
5. Tablet Web Browsers
6. Unknown Agent
7. TV / Set-Top Boxes

I am not going to focus on the actual platforms today, but I will say that because of the dominance of Windows iTunes users, the number of Windows users consuming podcasts is nearly three to one.

But lets look real close at the mobile side. Sadly there are a number of app developers out there that do not provide what we call a “user agent.” Every time a file download / stream request is made, the user agent (aka the actual program that is making the request) does not identify itself. Apps such as those produced by Libsyn / Spreaker cannot be measured; thus they get no credit and are either counted as unknown or get lumped into iOS or Android.

Although we are not able to classify the app, we can usually tell if it falls into the mobile category.
Here are the top 10 mobile clients / apps as of May 2014.

1. iPhone 33.5%
2. Podcast for iOS 31.5%
3. Android Mobile 8.7%
4. iPad 7.0%
5. Stitcher for iOS 4.3%
6. Downcast for iOS 3.1%
7. Beyondpod for Android 2.5%
8. CFNetwork (iOS Apps) 2.0%
9. Stitcher for Android 1.7%
10. Chrome (Mobile) 1.4%

The Top 10 Apps make up 95.7 percent of all mobile downloads in May from a pool of 63,152,570 mobile downloads. The graph below is the money-shot showing you the 30 or so mobile apps / devices we track and the dramatic roll off.

stats3

The 20 or so remaining apps we track collectively had 4.3 percent of the of downloads for May, so the bottom 20 have a lot of growth potential.

As you can see, mobile apps are accounting for a lot of listens, and even though there are more +Android listeners worldwide, the Android community is largely missing. So if you are looking for growth in your show, you need to start promoting more Android apps and dedicating some how-tos on your website to attract more Android listeners.

Next month we will dig deeper into global stats. My team is dedicated to providing the most comprehensive statistics data in the podcasting space. Start using our free stats at Blubrry.com today. See you next month Todd.


The Holy Grail of Podcast Statistics Listener Listen Percentages



As promised, let’s talk about a topic I brushed on last month while I dug into the nitty-gritty of podcast statistics data: Listener-listen percentages, the holy grail of podcast statistics data.

By looking at the raw data of the media server logs, we can now calculate exactly how much of an individual media file was delivered to a listener. With a great number of podcast listeners simply clicking “play now,” versus downloading the file first, oftentimes the entire media file is not delivered.

When you click “play now” on most devices, the media is delivered to you in chunks, aka the infamous Byte Serving. Byte Serving is essentially — without getting too deep — how Apple and other mobile providers send you the media in pieces instead of downloading the entire file at once. Depending on your Internet connection and a lot of other variables, a 100 mb file could be broken up into 100 chunks on one request and 500 the next.

So if you listen to 15 minutes of a 30 minute podcast before clicking “stop,” there are many chunks / minutes of the podcast media file that have not yet been served to you. With this data we are now able to get an exact percentage of a file downloaded.

We can stitch those chunks back together and tell exactly how much, how little, or whether the file was served in it’s entirety. We have detailed data on each and every media file request.  It is pretty neat when we can see that a listener scrubs forward to, let’s say, the 10 minute mark and starts listening there instead of the beginning.

By now you can see where I am headed. The media delivery percentages really tell an incredible listener engagement story. To do this it takes a huge amount of processing to stitch, calculate and build sensible reports for our corporate clients. This data then allows them to do a lot of cool things. Here are a few:

*Make programming changes based on trends showing when an audience bounced out.
*Determine peak listening for ad placement before drop off.
*Provide accurate billing to advertisers.

One of our vendors had a show that lost about 80 percent of its audience each episode around the 23 minute mark. The producers knew that at that point in their program was a segment change. Upon removal of that segment, nearly their entire audience kept listening through to the 45 minute mark.

In another show, the audience scrubbed up — or jumped ahead — to about the 5 minute mark before they started listening. The show hosts revamped the beginning of their show and advertised the new change at the 7 minute mark, and regained the audience at the intro.

I want to be very clear here: This gives our clients inferred data on what is happening with each and every episode, no one to date is providing a signal that an app has been closed or the listener hit stop.  An assumption that they hit stop can be made, but may not always be the case.

The bottom line is that the listening session ended. If they come back later and pick up where they left off, we have other techniques that allow us to account for that action as well.

Simply watching the trending lines of the show’s audience over time has allowed our clients to tweak their shows, gain advertising revenue by better placement, and use a high level of sophistication to understand exactly what is happening with their listening audience.

For podcasters that host their podcast media with Blubrry, we will have an option to opt-in for similar data in their stats later this year, along with some yet-to-be announced data sets that will enable us to “close the loop.”

My goal in these first three articles has been to educate you that measuring media accurately truly is rocket science and we are pretty pleased to be the scientist behind that rocket. My team lives and breathes this everyday, and we hope that all networks and podcasters alike will trust us as tens of thousands of podcasters, networks and radio stations already do in their podcast media measurement.

Next month I want to switch gears and talk about mobile and the trends we are seeing in the utilization of mobile devices and even apps that are trending in the space. I will also cover some of the frustrations we have in tracking some of the mobile apps being used by podcasters today.

At Blubrry, we want to work together as a community to make sure that there are solid, reliable statistics and no misleading numbers in the podcasting space. If all podcasters utilized trusted solutions the space would be much better off in the long run.

Send your comments and questions to ceo@rawvoice.com

Catch my personal podcast @ GeekNewsCentral.com and tune in to our weekly New Media Show co-hosted with Rob Greenlee at NewMediaShow.com.


Unique listeners more important than you think!



This article originally appeared in issue #2 of Podertainment Magazine
Author:  Todd Cochrane CEO RawVoice Parent company of Blubrry.com

Hey folks! We’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of podcast statistics data. We know how confusing some stats can be, this is where I break it down for you.

I want to share a little history with you before I get into the topic at hand. I started my own podcast in October 2004 and as near as I have been able to figure it, my show was one of the first 50 or so podcasts to launch. In the early days, we were not worried about stats — our biggest challenge was bandwidth. There were no so-called unlimited bandwidth services.

Those hurdles were quickly overcome, and within a year we started focusing on who was listening, where and how. Today we have vibrant data that can tell us exactly how many people listened on the Web, used an app, or kicked back and watched on a set-top-box. Tracking the all of that now is an afterthought.

Two questions remain: Did they really listen and For how long?  I will share with you insights no one has to date revealed, data that is now 100 percent capable of being measured and will benefit you as you grow your show and your audience.

In a related article I provided some statistics that raised a lot of questions. We figured that might happen. This time, I have refined and broken down the data into chunks that are comprehensive.

With the RawVoice/ Blubrry podcast statistics reporting that we do for our clients, on every download / stream request, or “hit,” we analyze in great detail whether the hit should be counted as a download. With this precision analysis we can see out of range trends and account for that, as percentages fluctuate daily, show to show, episode to episode. With our proprietary algorithms we provide consistent podcast download totals regardless of what these percentages are on any given day.

Given a random snapshot in November 2013, of 5,606,161 hits for media files ranging in size, we determined:

p3

Looking at the 55.9 percent of hits that were not countable, 22.4 percent ip duplicate requests, mostly caused by iTunes (iTunes may send one request to get the file size, then a separate to download the file). The remaining 33.6 percent stem from a variety of issues, such as invalid HTTP status code, empty byte range request size, non-existing files, invalid file name (non-podcast media), etc.

When we see partial download requests, we take the time to assemble the bytes requested to determine how much of the file was downloaded. In some cases, we will only see one or two requests from the same unique visitor, and in other cases we see hundreds of small byte range requests from a unique visitor. Factoring in the byte-request data we know exactly what portion of each file is requested, allowing us to calculate how much of the file was downloaded. Of the 19.2 percent partial file downloads they make up small segments aka repeats of portion of a file already counted we do not count those partials as they have been accounted for in the other confirmed downloads.

We reported 24.2 percent as counted downloads (underlined totals), with 22.5 percent being from unique IP addresses, leaving only 1.7 percent of the hits accounting for two or more downloads. The end result shows us that two or more downloads coming from the same IP address is very low.

Any given day, the percentage breakdown of countable and not-countable downloads fluctuates based on many factors. If you rely solely on download hits, you will find that your numbers will not be consistent and will not reflect your true download total or audience size.

It is important to note that unique IP address data is critical validation data for podcast media downloads. Based on the results above, we know that the final download / stream total will always be higher than and relatively close to the unique IP address total. We (Blubrry/RawVoice) knew this back in 2005 when we started measuring podcast downloads, and as you see from our small snapshot from November, it still holds true today.

If you are concerned about being audited or need accountable details to meet the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, make sure your podcast measurement is taking the necessary steps to calculate the true download total.

Here is where I am going to get up on my soap box for just a moment. If you are counting your downloads with anything other than a trusted podcast statistics platform, you are likely over-reporting your total audience size. It’s complicated stuff. Get the unique IP count correct by throwing out the garbage and you will find that Unique IP is a large indicator of true audience size. This is evident, as we’ve noted above, because we do not see Unique IPs coming back very often for the same file.

In a future article, I will translate the percentages into describing what we are seeing in an actual listening rate. With Byte Range being used nearly exclusively in the space, we can tell you based on server data just how long they are listening to your show.

If you desire your podcast network to get on track and have media statistics that keep you honest, feel free to reach out to me at ceo@rawvoice.com. We host and measure the biggest podcast networks in the space


Podcast RSS Feed Survey Results



Recently there has been mis-information being put out by a commercial podcast hosting company claiming that Podcast RSS feeds hosted on WordPress sites is a bad idea. So a week or more ago I asked podcasters a series of survey questions about their Podcast RSS feed to get podcasters to weigh in on the topic.

The recent shutdown of Mevio giving podcasters 10 days to move, will hit home here in the importance of controlling ones rss feed. I look forward to seeing your comments on the results of the survey.

Here are the survey results a total of 1180 podcaster participated.

1. Number of years you have been Podcasting

1 – 31.03%
2 – 12.07%
3 – 8.62%
4 – 6.90%
5 – 5.17%
6 – 5.17%
7 – 5.17%
8 – 8.62%
9 – 15.52%
10 – 1.72%

2. Do you have your own Website aka YourDomain.com

Yes – 98.28%
No – 1.72%

3. Where are you hosting your actual Podcast Media?

More than 95% where hosting at one of these 4 services (Amazon s3, Blubrry, Libsyn, Self Hosting)

4. Do you use WordPress?

Yes – 94.14%
No – 5.86

5. Do you use a Podcasting Plugin if so which one?

None – 5.51%
PodPress – 1.1%
PodLove – 0.7%
PowerPress – 92.39%
SoundCloud – 0.2% (Not a plugin)
Others – 0.1

6. What RSS Feed are you using to feed iTunes?

The RSS Feed from my own website – 77.57%
The RSS Feed from Feedburner – 18.21%
The RSS Feed from my Hosting Provider – 4.22%

7. if you answered my Hosting Provider or Feedburner do you have a plan to recover your RSS feed / Audience if they go out of business or stop the service?

Yes- 33.01%
No- 66.99% (I find this number simply Incredible)

Comments. (Currently moving to PowerPress | Newsletter – copies of all eps – social media – website announcement | Going to switch the feed soon to my own site | Redirect via iTunes| 301 redirect from Feedburner | I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.| Beg Apple to update my feed)

8. On a scale 1-10 with 10 being the highest how important is it that you control your own rss feed?

1 – 0.00%
2 – 0.01%
3 – 0.01%
4 – 0.01%
5 – 1.45%
6 – 1.57%
7 – 1.77%
8 – 5.34%
9 – 5.61%
10- 78.79%
A third party controls my RSS feed 5.17%

9.If you are a WordPress user have you ever had a problem with your Podcast RSS feed?

Yes – 2.07%
No – 92.16%
N/A – 5.77%

Comments on Question 9 only received 4 from the 1180 respondents. (The feed got too large, over 512k.| Had to have it fixed by a developer! $$$. I think it was a bad plugin! | A plugin messed up the RSS feed on a client’s site.| My feed went invalid due to you tube videos | The last time it went invalid I gave up (it was a pluigin, and the show is almost dead) and changed my feed ti Libsyn.com as it worked.)

10. Have you ever used a third party service for your RSS feed and have had issues?

Yes – 10.34%
No – 89.66%

Comments: (Their site went down for an extended period | Feed burner stopped working -also stat reporting failed | Feedburner wouldn’t update – Also used Libsyn for a while and the feed quit a few times | I did have trouble when I controlled my own feed. This still bugs me! | Libsyn jacked my feed and their support was slow so I switched to my own feed)

11. For those that control their RSS feed on their own website have you ever regretted doing so?

Yes – 2.02%
No – 97.98%

12. What advice would you give a new podcaster that is starting out today when it comes to their RSS feed.
Note: We received over 900 responses to this question alone I have tried to cover all themes.

Control it, use your own. When submitting to iTunes and other podcast directories use a podcast only feed, not the main site feed.
Control your own so that you have the ability to seamlessly pull away and move at your leisure.
Generate your own feed via WordPress.
Use Powerpress, own your feed.
Control it yourself…..
Have your own and that it’s a podcast only RSS feed.
Use your own site!
If you’re using a “free” service that doesn’t give you control over your own feed make sure you run it through Feedburner so you can keep some control over it.
Get your own and keep it simple!
Control your feed it is your brand and audience.
Host your files on Libsyn and use your rss feed from your WordPress blog using Poweerpress
Trust the professionals
Understand how to control your own RSS feed or no how to redirect it should you need to before launching your podcast.
Keep it on your own server. Validate using FeedValidator.
use a third party
Just know what it is, where it is, and how you can access and modify it.
Use Libsyn
Always control your own RSS feed. It’s the lifeblood of your podcast.
Use Blubrry Hosting + WordPress and PowerPress

I want to thank the podcasters that took the time to answer this survey. We will be running more surveys in the future.


Mevio Pulls the Plug!



Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 10.55.28 AMMevio has shutdown and given the remaining podcasters on the service 10 days to move.

The Mevio.com site is already offline, and podcasters are scrambling to get new media hosting services setup, and their RSS feeds back under control. Podcasters on the service though have been holding their breath for a couple of years as the hand writing has been on the wall.

Mevio raised an incredible 38.9 million dollars and pissed it away, with an ill thought out content strategy. With that kind of money they could dominated the new media space, but like many startups they spent money money like a drunken sailor. The media creators that put their heart and soul into a network are now on the street, the Mevio model locked many into multi-year contracts to only kick them to the floor later. Mevio’s relationship with podcasters was always one of contention, their where those that were in and those that were out.

The only smart one in that bunch was Adam Curry as he removed himself from the operation a number of years ago so much for their mevio motto and dream of quitting your day job.

In an email to podcasters, Mevio basically told them you have to the 18th to get your media, rss & meta data out. Several blog posts from podcasters express dismay on what has transpired and they are very angry. I am not surprised as this seems to be the attitude of a lot of content creators they react instead of having a plan its not like they did not know that the mevio bus was almost out of gas.

The author of this post has advocated strongly for the past 10 years, own your brand, control your rss feed, and “never” allow a third party to control ones show destiny. This is further evidence that podcasters should look closely at who they work with, where the company originates, and to the best of their ability determine the financial stability of the company. Because companies are not obligated to continue money losing services year after year.

Public companies have obligations to shareholders to make money and lot of it. Venture supported companies have obligations to those that fund them to build a big business and if that does not happen like Mevio they pull the plug. Way to many podcasters host their media and shows with companies they know nothing about! Mevio is the 3rd or 4th company to leave podcasters hanging, and likely will not be the last.


Let’s dig into Podcast Statistics



As part of my fiduciary duty at RawVoice, I am required to make sure all of our advertising campaigns are reporting and being billed correctly.  Having highly accurate reporting is priority number one to me so that we can pay our podcasters on ad deals fairly, but also to ensure our advertisers are billed only what we have delivered.

I love statistics; it was one of my favorite courses in college so I often drive my team members crazy by asking them to calculate a weird stat or explore a new trend. What I aim to do in this series of articles is answer questions you might have on podcasting trends and provide you helpful insights. Feel free to reach out to me via the contact info on the site to send me questions.

Today, I want to talk on two topics: Truth in reporting podcast statistics; and a new statistic we’re calculating for our corporate clients that shows what percentage of a media file is actually streamed and / or downloaded.

I have been managing podcast ad deals since 2005 and have seen the good, bad and the ugly.  My sole philosophy when it comes to podcast stats is simple: I don’t care what the number is so long as I know what the true number is.

Truth in Reporting.

A week does not pass without someone contacting me to tell me they have 100,000 listeners per episode and want to work with us on securing advertising. My response to them has always been to get on our stats and we will talk in a couple of weeks. Often, the follow-up discussions are spent explaining to them why their audience size assessment was inaccurate.

The past couple of years we have been involved in the audits of podcasters’ reporting data that has more times than not ended disappointingly for the podcaster. It is not usually negligence on their part, rather their trust in a home-grown tool, or some non-podcast stats system.

Let’s look at the impact of improper reporting. If a podcaster was audited to have delivered 100,000 downloads from a trusted stats system, yet had originally billed for 500,000 from a system they employ, this will significantly, negatively impact the performance of the campaign, not to mention the cash that has to be returned to the media buyer.

The podcaster may be denied a follow-on campaign, whereas they may have extended the campaign had the initial reporting been accurate. These situations cause advertisers as a whole to lose faith in podcast advertising.

What constitutes a trusted stats system? From experience, we know that we have to tweak our stats engine weekly to keep up with all the bots, rouge apps, bad code and the overall deviations on the Web. We also know you need volume to see trends. For instance, we found a recent update of a browser that was causing bloated numbers — without weekly monitoring that would have caused inflated data.

If you have created your own solution, and it does not have the scale/volume and safeguards to see and flag trends such as a single-browser version inflating calculations, over time issues such as this will compound and cause inaccurate numbers reporting, both high and low. Most shows and networks do not have the time, traffic volume or staff resources to track such changes.

Media buyers are already starting to ask hard-hitting questions, and some are implementing or contracting statistics solutions that require podcasters to be on the media buyers’ tracking and stats system. You do not want to be on the wrong side of reporting numbers when an audit puts you in a position that could have a negative financial impact.

If you are a member of a network and they are doing ad deals for you, your reputation could be damaged by improper reporting, so always question the network leadership about how the podcasts statistics are being determined. As important, ask questions of your existing stats provider.

How much of a media file is being streamed / downloaded?

We recently did some research that we revealed at the New Media Expo this past January. We have been studying activity that can be broken into five categories detailing what occurs when a media file is queried. We found the following information that should give you some new insights into media consumption.

To do this, we took a snapshot of a network of podcasts, episodes in this network had billable downloads ranging from 2,000 downloads to 120,000 downloads per episode. We took a one-month sample of every episode / show and averaged out the totals below.

-55.9 percent of downloads where uncountable (duplicate, repeats, bogus)
-5.7 percent were unique IP completed downloads
-.8 percent were repeat completed downloads
-17.7 percent unique IP partial downloads (2 percent-99 percent)
-19.9 percent repeated partial downloads (2 percent-99 percent)

Now these numbers may shock you, but take into account that the network ended up having more than 5.60 million billable downloads.

In future posts I will go much deeper and explain details on each of the above data points. What I want to impress upon you today is that unless you have specifically coded a filter for requests that are duplicate, repeats, bogus, etc., it is easy to understand how a show could end up with 55 percent more reported downloads than actually occurred.

Todd..