The Importance Of Having Google In Our Space

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(By Mark Asquith) On Tuesday along with Rebel Base Media CTO, Kieran McKeefery, I attended the RAIN Podcast Business Summit in New York City. The 400-strong event was a half-day deep-dive into the current and future state of the podcast industry featuring an opening keynote interview with Google’s Zack Reneau-Wedeen and an Infinite Dial & Share of Ear Study preview from Larry Rosin, President at Edison Research.

Many of the industry’s more recognizable brands were in attendance, too, including NPR and the newly renamed Megaphone, with topics ranging from the next content trends to ad attribution and the development of eco-systems at Spotify and Pandora.

Overall, the event was an interesting look at the more big-media-led side of the industry and left me particularly interested in Google’s approach.

Google’s big plans remain audacious and keep getting more exciting for new listeners.
During his opening interview, Zack Reneau-Wedeen addressed the “Is the fact that Google didn’t jump to the #2 spot in podcasting casting the shadow of failure on its podcasting endeavour?”.

Of course and as expected, the answer was a resounding “no”, but what followed was a really articulate and well-considered insight into the mentality of the product team at Google which is based around small, measured and incremental additions to its podcasting platform in order to serve the long-term of the industry.

Interestingly, Zack dove into how Google is looking to help solve the discoverability issue within podcasting from a technology perspective, namely ensuring that Google’s index has as much access to the content at episode level as possible and then, potentially in the future, content within a podcast episode thanks to deep transcription generation & indexing and the ability to recognize, for example, when serving an audio search result would benefit the user (e.g., if headphones are present on a device or if accessing search results in a car via Android’s OS and a voice search).

Overall, Zack summed up Google’s approach to podcasting in this Tweet, assuring the audience that each release to the Google Podcasts product will hit a mark within one of these four buckets:

There’s a long way to go here, without a doubt, but it’s refreshing to see that the Google Podcasts team has been working behind the scenes, something that we got an insight into at Sound Education at Harvard last fall, and that Zack continues to focus on a connected, cross-device experience that begins with serving relevance – a staple of Google’s search algorithms, period.

Podcast discoverability is a hard nut to crack but by focussing on serving podcast episodes as relevant results to search queries, there’s a strong initiative to move into helping those potential listeners yet to discover podcasts that content exists for them, and that listening to that content doesn’t involve downloading a new app or manually searching that app for a piece of content that may or may not be relevant.

Only time will tell when it comes to adoption, but this baked in search approach combined with Google’s Knowledge Graph is the most interesting development in the discoverability space for a long-time.

Mark Asquith is the CEO of Rebel Base Media, which owns Captivate.fmPodcast WebsitesPodcast Design StudioPodcast Success Academy & Poductivity. Reach out to Mark by e-mail at Mark@rebelbasemedia.io