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YouTube To Roll Out New Audio-Focused Metrics As Its Podcast Efforts Ramp Up.

YouTube has quickly moved from a footnote to a focus for many podcasters as the industry has seen research pointing to the rapid development of listeners accessing podcasts through the video platform. It may be a result of the pandemic lockdowns, but as the world returns to normal the Google-owned platform is not wasting the opportunity. It is embracing podcasters, and it is working to begin delivering the kind of metrics to producers that they have grown accustomed to getting from traditional audio apps.

“Right now the default is using what is available on YouTube analytics, which is heavily video-focused,” said YouTube Director of Podcasting Kai Chuk. “But we will be launching audio-specific metrics in YouTube analytics, probably in the next quarter or two.”

On Thursday, YouTube added official search cards for podcast shows. And in the coming weeks it plans to add podcast badging, which essentially is a badge of authenticity that it gives if a channel is verified by the official show creator. “Over the coming weeks and months we will be launching even more features,” Chuk said during an appearance at Podcast Movement in Dallas.

Earlier this week YouTube added a dedicated podcast destination page for podcasts alongside similar content channels for music, movies, gaming, fashion and beauty, news, sports and learning. The podcast channel includes recommended shows, a panel of “popular” show creators, and a list of podcast videos across a spectrum of genres, including Comedy, True Crime Sports, Music, and TV& Film on what it calls shelves.

“We want to make YouTube more listenable and more audio-friendly,” said Chuck. “One of our plans for the near future is to add more shelves to make the content more customized to the user, but also to what’s going on in the world. So if the election season comes on, I’m sure there will be an election shelf. If it’s Thanksgiving, there might be a cooking shelf. We want to make sure that we’re providing info that’s helpful to people.”

Another feature that is in the works would help users discover new shows. Chuk says YouTube is looking at adding an auto-play feature like what it offers for music that recommends content based on what was just listened to.

“Making the ‘Watch Next’ algorithm better is certainly top of mind,” he said. “We’ve already made changes. Right now, when we recommend a piece of content next, we are much more likely now to recommend a podcast to someone we know that is either a heavy podcast consumer or that might not be able to look at the screen and we should recommend something to them that is audio-forward and not cause them to crash the car if they’re driving.”

Podcasters are also watching closely a test that YouTube is currently testing in Canada. Since last October, YouTube has allowed users the option to play content in the background while not looking at their screen. It means users can continue listening to YouTube Music while using other apps or when their screen is off.

“Within this, you can engage with the YouTube Music app through an exciting ad-supported, radio-like experience featuring the artists, songs, and albums you love, plus personalized mixes on shuffle without the hassle of having to keep the YouTube Music app open on your device,” the company said when it beta-launched the feature last October.

The feature is already available to YouTube Premium subscribers in the U.S. but Chuk declined to say if or when screen-off will be rolled out more widely.

Evolving Definition Of ‘Podcast’

During a presentation at Podcast Movement Thursday, A.J. Feliciano, Head of The Roost Podcast Network, said his company’s decade of digital video experience has helped them straddle the line with 87 million monthly video views and 13 million monthly audio downloads to its network of roughly 85 shows.

“In our eyes, the definition of a podcast has been evolving over the years,” Feliciano said. He believes the shift to video is the result of a conditioning of consumers to get their content on YouTube. “Video doesn’t matter. It’s all about platform presence,” Feliciano said.

Based on their experience, Feliciano said he does not see much evidence of video having a “cannibalistic” impact on audio listening. “We use YouTube as a way of finding a younger audience,” he explained. But Feliciano said he does not believe producers should limit their YouTube presence to posting highlights of a show. “It’s important to talk to people the way that they are consuming content today,” he said.

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