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Westwood One’s Wordock on Maintaining — and Monitoring — Podcast Audiences

The Westwood One Podcast Network executive editor offers strategies and analytics tools for engaging listeners

John Wordock, executive editor of the Westwood One Podcast Network
John Wordock, executive editor of the Westwood One Podcast Network

On Westwood One’s blog, John Wordock, the executive editor of the Westwood One Podcast Network, offers some guidance for podcasters on how to produce content that engages and retains listeners.

He also details ways to utilize Apple metrics, a dashboard tool that provide podcast publishers and show producers a look at past episodes, duration, devices, total time listened, time per device, and average consumption. (To access the dashboard, log into the Apple ID account used to publish the podcast and select “Podcast Analytics” from the drop-down menu on the left.) “Think of the Apple dashboard as a digital focus group letting you track actual behavior,” Wordock says.

In his post, Wordock recommends:

  • Focusing on storytelling and preparation: “Want to produce a great podcast? Then prepare, prepare, prepare,” he says. “If you publish an interview podcast, do your homework, know your questions beforehand, and anticipate the answers. If you produce a scripted show, do table reads with your producer, pick apart your episode, and look for ways to improve your story. If you fly solo, bounce your ideas off a spouse or friend.”
  • Getting creative with preroll ads: “Because listening decisions are made so quickly, avoid starting an episode with ad copy if possible … tease what lies ahead in the episode,” Wordock continues. “Introduce the theme. Promote your guest. Telegraph what to expect ahead. Doing all this before the first ad will buffer the audience from being bombarded by a commercial early on.”
  • Experimentation: “The beauty of having Apple metrics at your fingertips? You have instant insight into how content performs, how your listeners react, and how ads are received,” Wordock says. “You see what works — and what doesn’t. You can use that information to format your podcast moving forward and make tweaks … so test things out. Experiment.”
  • Holding the audience: “Strive to hold 80% of your audience to the mid-roll [promotional] position and use it as a draw for advertisers,” he stresses. “Look at the percentages on the right side of the dashboard. They tell a story. Consumption rates under 70% are fair. Good listenership sits around 80%. If you have a podcast reaching 90% or higher, congrats! You’re my hero.”
  • Dealing with dips: “Through the Apple dashboard, you will spot potholes in the listening pattern,” Wordock explains. “What is that dip? Oh, it’s where the host read the ad copy. So how can you stop your listeners from fast-forwarding through the ads and leaving large divots on your data screen? The best podcast reads are often seamless and connect with the topics being discussed. The transitions are smooth and easy.”

To read in more detail about each of Wordock’s points, visit the Westwood One blog entry.