We’re at the halfway point of the year where we discuss…podcasting trends.

How the trends are going?

Whats breaking through?

It’s been somewhat exciting for podcast hosts, although as usual, it’s very much up and down.

As a segue into what’s going on in the podcasting sphere, something completely amazing has happened in podcast land, and you’re probably familiar with it already, but if not, it’s something we wanted to touch on –

S-Town, the latest addition to This American Life’s stable of shows, did 40 million downloads in the first month of release. Crazy eh? 40 actual, real million downloads. That’s unheard of, never before done.

You’re probably familiar with Nick Quah, who writes the Hot Pod newsletter, and I want to quote him now about the S-Town release –

“It’s the biggest rollout a podcast has ever seen in the medium’s history, solidly beating the previous titleholder, Serial season two, which saw an average of 4 million downloads per episode in its first 30 days, according to the measurement firm Podtrac. (For more context, consider that the This American Life podcast, one of the biggest in the industry, is said to see about 2.5 million downloads a week.)”

That speaks a lot to how TAL leverages their audience base, and drives traffic to their properties in an organized manner that’s designed to get results and make advertisers very happy with those results. I don’t think that anyone dreamed that they’d have this much success, but crazy as it is, that’s exactly what happened.

[LISTEN NOW – PODCAST 43 – Podcasting Trends You’ll Want to Hear!]

In that same vein, there’s been a bit of controversy in podcast land not that long ago, and it has to do with stats… yes, again with the stats. It’s terrible that we don’t have a way to measure accurately what’s going on with iTunes and that Apple doesn’t really seem to feel that anything is broken so they don’t appear to be planning on fixing it.

Upwards of 85% of most podcast listens are on iTunes – anyone not using iTunes as an option is probably kidding themselves -or maybe they’re using a deceptive system to bump up numbers and gain more advertisers, you know, the old bots thing that is so prevalent, especially when sponsors and advertisers have even less idea about the ROI and effectiveness of their spends.

Anyway, podcast411.com ran an article a little while back that was titled, “Sorry, Virginia, there is no such thing as the perfect length for podcasts”. While the title sounds innocuous enough, a number of geeks in podcast-land (including yours truly) chimed in with comments about the piece.

The argument hinges on whether or not downloads are an accurate indication of time spent listening to a podcast, which of course, in our opinion, it does not. Anytime a podcast is set up for auto download, it simply means that an episode is sitting on someone’s phone somewhere, potentially unheard and unloved.

See how many episodes of Splendid Table I have to clear out of my phone on occasion, and that’s just one of the auto downloads I have hitting my iPhone. Most of the episodes don’t get listened to before they are deleted, so the idea that I somehow as a subscriber bring value to their advertisers and am worth so much as a single dime for most episodes is completely flawed.But yet, we don’t have a better system for data collection and analysis, so we just keep going with what we know.

There is possibly something new on the horizon for statistics on podcasts being played via iTunes, although we’re probably too early into things to actually know if the product really works – and if it does, whether or not Apple will change things up to prevent it from continuing to work.

[RELATED: Biggest Mistakes with Podcast Stats]

Australian cloud-based audio management company Omny Studio have spent months developing a way to monitor the iTunes Podcast app, and they’ve just released an upgrade for their enterprise customers which, for the first time, lifts the curtain on these statistics.

RadioMagOnline.com has an article from back in March that brings this to light, and I’ll quote them here –

In a press release, CEO Sharon Taylor said: “Insight at this granular level of detail is not currently available for Apple’s app anywhere else. Previously we could only get consumption insights if we controlled the player, so being able to see this for the Apple Podcasts app is a breakthrough. Not only could this help to verify host-read ad plays, it will also help from a content perspective, to lift the curtain on podcast audience’s listening habits.”

Via email, Sharon confirmed for RadioMag that the company is tracking about 30% of all plays within the Podcast app. This sample is based on listeners who stream, rather than pre-download, podcasts.

What Omny doesn’t have yet, is a way to verify that users actually listen to ads, and since we all know that ad skipping is likely very prevalent, especially among younger users who think nothing of taking the time to fast forward through 2 minutes of ad content when they are actively listening, we’ll be waiting with baited breath to see how this one turns out as time goes by.

Moving on to some new ‘trends’ in podcasting, kids are all the rage. NPR and WNYC Studios are both cooking up kid friendly shows, and have high hopes that they can garner the tween and young adult market by providing suitable content that kids will want to listen to.

I’m not entirely sure what to think about this – are we really going to expect kids to put down the Nintendo or stop Minecrafting so they can listen to audio only? Something with absolutely zero visual stimulation? I’m not onboard with this idea just yet, I think we’re raising the ten and under crowd today to expect complete immersion in media in order to capture and keep their attentions for longer than a minute or two.

Last but not least, the NAB (national association of broadcasters) show was in Vegas, as usual, back in the spring, and podcasting is going to get more attention and floor space with the next edition of the show.

Rob Greenlee, director of content for Spreaker, told us in a message – “NAB will have an area on the exhibition floor for podcasting and a content/panel pavillion for podcasting next year. “

That’s big news in some ways, since anything that brings more light to podcasting in a way that’s positive and helps producers large and small grow their brands and shows, is great. I’m sure that NAB sees the potential dollar signs in adding podcast related businesses to the list of companies giving them checks for floor space and hosting events during the show.

Here’s to hoping that your days are bright and sunny and your listener count is going steadily in the right direction!