Introducing the Digital Analytics Power Hour Podcast
Happy New Year! Reflecting on 2014, I have to give it high marks from a personal and professional fulfillment front, and I’m looking to outperform those results in 2015.
Who Doesn’t Love the Lobby Bar?
One of the things I enjoyed most about 2014 — and have been fortunate to get to enjoy many times over the past several years — was attending analytics conferences and getting to connect with some great people in our industry. For as long as I’ve been attending eMetrics, evenings in the lobby bar have been a formal aspect of one evening, and an informal — but sanctioned and promoted — aspect of every evening of the conference. Whether it’s fair or not, I credit eMetrics with actually spreading the catchphrase “lobby bar” to other industry conferences.
I’ve downed more than a few drinks at lobby bars (and “nearby bars” when the lobby bar isn’t well-suited) getting to know other analysts. The common ground we always have is #measure, so it’s rare for discussions to not head to that topic — based on recent industry news, a particular conference session, or just some shared interest in the space. I relish those discussions.
At the same time, I am a podcast junky. As evidence, Stitcher reports that I’ve spent over 887 hours listening to podcasts since I joined the service in 2011, and that doesn’t count the several years of podcast listening I was doing before I started using Stitcher, nor does it count the daily and weekly podcasts from Slate that I’ve had to listen to through the Apple podcasting app since I got a Slate+ subscription in the middle of 2014. In other words, I’m a fan of podcasts. They’re my go-to companion when walking the dog, shoveling the driveway, mowing the yard, or working in my workshop. And, there is a lot of evidence that I am not alone on that front:
- Slate published an article on how, while podcasting is a wildly imperfect technology, its 10-year birthday was a good point to reflect on the promise of the medium
- Serial took the world by storm, which prompted Fortune to muse on the growth of the format
- Alex Blumberg started a for-profit company — Gimlet Media — whose sole product will be podcasts (with the excellent Startup and Reply All podcasts both up and running), and he quickly hit his initial funding goal
My take is that, in a somewhat odd technology reversal, the growing dominance of video on demand has now spilled over to consumers’ desire for radio on demand. And that’s, essentially, what podcasts provide.
I’ve had some experience measuring podcasts, too — both when the agency I worked at had a podcast for a while, as well as with a current client who is dipping their toes into the medium as a way to communicate with their target audience. Measuring podcasts largely blows, as, at their core, podcasts are nothing more than an RSS feed. That means that it is impossible to truly measure “subscribers” and “listens.” Those are core aspects of the user experience, but they’re entirely controlled by the podcast listening client, which means measurement of both is an approximation at best. But that’s a digression for another day…
The Lobby Bar Meets Podcasts
The preceding has been a lengthy and rambling setup for the actual core of this post, which is that I’m kicking off 2015 by trying my hand at actually being part of a bi-weekly digital analytics podcast. My partners in podcrime are Michael Helbling, Director of Analytics at Search Discovery, and Jim Cain, CEO of both Napkyn Inc. and Babbage Systems Inc. As Jim describes the format:
“Each episode is a closed topic and an open forum – the goal is for listeners to enjoy listening to Michael, Tim and Jim share their thoughts and experiences and hopefully take away something to try at work the next day.”
That’s really all there is to it. We pick a topic, do a little prep work, sit down and record a discussion that Michael guides, and then do a bit of light editing to tighten up the content before publishing. We plan to have a guest participant occasionally, but the core group with each episode will be the three of us. We’re calling the podcast Digital Analytics Power Hour. The episodes actually run for 35-45 minutes. That’s either a testament to the power of the conversation, or something related to the current current exchange rate between the Canadian and American dollar (or so Jim says).
For a 40-second taste of the first 40-minute episode, check out the below:
Are you not a podcast listener? Then there really isn’t much in this post for you. But, if you are, there are a lot of ways to find the podcast:
- Search for “Digital Analytics Power Hour” in iTunes (or follow this link) or your favorite podcasting service or grab the RSS feed and add it to your podcast client
- Visit (and like) the page on Facebook at http://facebook.com/analyticshour
- Follow us on Twitter at @analyticshour (we’re not expecting to tweet heavily, but we will tweet out each new episode)
- Visit our show page on Libsyn
Or, you can just listen to the show using the player below. In Episode 001, we discuss ways to become a better analyst:
We’re analysts, so, of course, we’ve had some discussions about what success looks like for the podcast. And, like many things that analysts get called in to help measure, it’s tricky. There are really three reasons we’re doing this:
- To get the “lobby bar” experience for ourselves on a regular basis, even when we’re not at conferences
- To share — in an engaging format — that experience with anyone in the community who is interested (although it would be a weird lobby bar experience to just sit on a stool and listen to the other people talking without contributing! The Facebook page and the show page support comments, though, so we do hope to have a level of dialogue with the #measure community)
- To learn more about the what and how of podcasting — creating quality content (both the content and the production quality) and measuring the results
Given those goals, our KPIs for 2015 are:
- Publish a podcast every 2 weeks throughout 2015 — this is an output measure, we realize, rather than an outcome measure, but generating the output is not a trivial undertaking, by any stretch, so we’re going with it
- Garnering at least 300 downloads per episode by the end of the year — this is a total SWAG, but, for us, if there are 100 people who actually listen to each episode and found the podcast interesting, we’ll feel like we’re doing a good thing
- An increasing trend in the number of downloads per episode — this may be a little soft, but, if we get traction through the first half of the year, then steady growth in downloads will be a success; by “steady,” we mean “clearly ‘real” when we pull and plot the data
- Have a quality episode about podcasting by the end of 2015 — this is our “learning” goal, and it is admittedly qualitative, but that doesn’t make it a bad KPI!
There. We’ve put it out there. While I’m not planning on publishing every episode on this blog, I do hope I’m able to share some of our progress over the course of the year.
What Do You Think?
Michael, Jim, and I are, obviously, excited about doing the podcast. In the month+ that we’ve been doing prep work, we’ve already learned a lot, and we’ve all commented on how energized we’ve felt after each of our discussions. But, we’ve all been around the block enough times to know that this whole thing could fall flat on its face. Should that happen, we at least hope we fail forward Jim Collins-style (if you think about it, it would be quite a feat to fall flat on our face and not be falling forward), and we’ll be as transparent as we can if that happens. We’re certainly looking for feedback — on the concept, the format, the topics, and any other thoughts you have. Comment here, or hop over to one of the links listed above and tell us what you think!