YouTube is the second-biggest search engine, remains the top monetization platform on the internet, and consistently ranks among top apps for podcast listening (see chart below). Until now, it hasn’t taken podcasts seriously. That’s going to change.
In an exclusive preview, Podnews published a few slides from YouTube’s presentation indented for podcast publishers. The slides show that the platform is working and will introduce better podcast ingestion (which will mean easier distribution of podcasts onto YouTube), audio discovery, analytics, and monetization sometime in the future.
Especially, discovery, analytics, and monetization remain the biggest headaches for the podcast industry.
Whenever you read podcast industry analysts or experts, they will all tell you, among other things, that YouTube is one of if not the best discovery tool for podcasts. And it’s not just their feeling, there is real data. Look at the latest Edison Research report on super listeners (those who listen to five or more hours of podcasts weekly). YouTube ranks as the top discovery destination for new podcasts, and over half of them (55%) listen to podcasts through YouTube.
It’s no a surprise really, YouTube is arguably the biggest audio destination on the web, with 1 billion users visiting the video service each month to listen to music. Meanwhile, Spotify has 406 million overall active users.
Before I dive deeper into how YouTube is beneficial to podcasting and how it is planning to evolve that relationship, I want to stress again how important it is for any podcast to have a presence there.
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Even though the slides published by Podnews and some industry chatter (I recommend listening to the Podland podcast for that) point to a most likely direction the platform is going, it’s good to keep in mind that we don’t know for sure.
Though, the following is the most likely scenario and I hope will go this way. I’ll explain.
The closest historic similarity to podcasting that comes to mind is Spotify’s launch of podcasts as the next big audio play. Until then, Spotify has been a music-first streaming app. After the introduction of podcasts, its CEO set out a vision of Spotify becoming an all-audio experience—music, podcasts and other audio forms (audiobooks, live audio…).
For some, Spotify already serves as an all-in-one audio service. They listen to music and switch between that and podcasts. To undergo such change, the music streamer had to build out an easy-to-use platform for podcasters. That meant that creators could use Spotify to get their podcasts listed and have an analytics dashboard to see how much are people listening to the show.
Since its introduction, Spotify for podcasters remains the most comprehensive and easy to use dashboard for podcast creators (I am happy to argue on Twitter about this, just reach out). It is very easy to submit a new show to Spotify, you get basic, still above average in the industry, demographics data about your audience and information how many users are listening and how much content. Sadly, today, not Apple nor Google give you all that data.
OK, so how is YouTube going to change? Here is an explanation based on the slides mentioned above.
First, YouTube is going to make uploading podcasts to the platform easier and more simple. It will probably work just like on Spotify—you submit the RSS feed, YouTube will send a confirmation mail to the e-mail published in the RSS feed (note: don’t forget to set your e-mail public in your podcast feed) and once confirmed you will get your podcast published on YouTube and access a dashboard of some sorts.
Second, in the dashboard, YouTube is going to give you data about your listeners. If you ever saw the YouTube Studio analytics, you could expect a light version of that. Although, a light version compared to YouTube videos could become a new industry leader if done right. The point is that YouTube could give you bigger and more granular data than Spotify, e.g. keywords, other podcasts your listeners are listening to and more.
Third, YouTube seems to be working on a new destination, a homepage for podcasts that will live at youtube.com/podcasts (not yet working). I suppose a new ‘Podcasts’ widget or cards will become part of the main YouTube feed, with possibly of a Podcasts tab in the main bottom navigation bar. This change is also going to turn audio into a first class citizen with its own visual style in the feed.
Forth, YouTube is going to play ads in podcasts (both sold by Google but also by partners too) like you are used to seeing in videos (unless you are a Premium subscriber). This means there is a big chance podcast monetization will exist from the get-go. As Podnews points out, YouTube’s standard practice has been to share revenue with publishers, so we might expect revenue to be shared with podcast publishers as well.
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The changes mentioned above are just another reason to get ahead of the curve and start publishing your podcast to YouTube, either manually or with automated tools.
Sure, you can wait and have it published comfortably once the features arrive. Still, you would be wasting time and slowing your podcast’s growth.
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Deegan proposes that once you finally decide, you should have your podcast on YouTube. You might rethink your strategy and maybe overhaul the way you record your podcast and add a visual element—film to your recording or be creative and find other ways to add an interesting video layer to your show.
Publishing an audiogram is a bare minimum, and you might get lucky with YouTube’s algorithm recommending your show for certain keywords. Still, YouTube is and will remain a video-first streaming service.
In order to better compete, add a native video. Just look at the Joe Rogan Experience. Before the podcast became a Spotify exclusive, I bet some followers didn’t know the show was a podcast and not a video show.
Video might scare some of your staff that went to work for a digital news outlet not to have to be on camera. It’s your responsibility to ease them into it. At the same time, video will add another level of understanding as listeners can see how hosts or guests act and react. That can be powerful.
Also, I suspect if done right and all signs point to that, podcast listening on YouTube will be much more popular than on Google Podcasts. And those ‘Listen on Google Podcasts’ badges will be exchanged for ‘Listen on YouTube’ badges on podcast publishers’ websites.
Hi! I'm David Tvrdon, a tech & media journalist and podcaster with a marketing background (and degree). Every week I send out the FWIW by David Tvrdon newsletter on tech, media, audio and journalism.