Audience Engagement Top Stories
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Google launches AI-based podcasts app, aims to double worldwide listenership.

After ceding the podcasting space to Apple for ages, Google has finally launched a podcast app for Android, called Google Podcasts.

Most regular podcast listeners use the Apple Podcasts app on the iPhone. Since Android didn’t have a dedicated app by Google until now, listeners had to opt for various third-party services like Stitcher, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Pocket Casts.

Google enters the fray

Finally, Google tentatively stepped into the space earlier this year, rolling out a new feature where Android users could listen and subscribe to podcasts directly from Google Search, without having to install any app. Since then, they have been improving the feature rapidly, and have now officially launched their standalone podcast app.

“Today, we’re releasing the Google Podcasts app for Android, available globally in the Play Store. Integrated with the Google Assistant across your devices and packed with personalized recommendations, Google Podcasts is designed to make it easier than ever for Android users to discover and listen to podcasts,” Google announced on their blog.

The Google Podcasts app for Android is available for free. However, there is no iOS app announced yet.

Why now?

According to The Podcast Consumer 2018 by Edison Research, there are an estimated 124 million podcast listeners, with around 73 million regular listeners on a monthly basis.

Not only that, podcast listeners tend to be hyper-engaged, super-supportive audiences valued by both publishers and advertisers.

It’s a steadily growing audience that till date was being primarily served by Apple, without Google in the play with its own app.

Google now plans to rectify that, and they have big plans. In an official statement, Zack Reneau-Wedeen, product manager of the app, said,

“There’s still tons of room for growth when it comes to podcast listening. Creating a native first-party Android app for podcasts could as much as double worldwide listenership of podcasts overall.”

How does Artificial Intelligence (AI) help podcasting?

Google is aiming to use its expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning to help transform podcasting for the better.

“Beyond the podcasts you already know, Google Podcasts uses AI to offer recommendations based on your listening habits—such as your interest in sports or true crime, or podcasts from a particular network,” said Zack Reneau-Wedeen, Product Manager of Google Podcasts.

“Google Podcasts seamlessly syncs across a variety of Google products, including the Google Assistant. So if you’re listening to a podcast on your phone during your commute home, you can resume it on your Google Home when you arrive. Over time, we’ll integrate Google Podcasts into more places you use Google.”

Advantage for publishers?

With Google Podcasts, the company is focused on helping podcast creators reach a broader audience. Google also announced a partnership with industry experts to improve diversity in podcast creation.

When the goal is to double listenership worldwide, it’s obvious that Google is finally taking the fight to Apple’s turf … and with more options and vigorous competition, publishers benefit.

“Podcasting is Apple’s world, podcast publishers just live in it. Whatever progress these publishers want to make for themselves, they would have to make it on terms set, directly and indirectly, by the things Apple will and will not do,” says Nicholas Quah, founder of Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. 

“Google, in theory, offers an alternative to this reality. The supposed argument is a diplomatic one: this wouldn’t be a case of Google eating Apple’s lunch, but rather a move to unlock the previously underserved Android market, which would give podcast publishers a path to building meaningful relationships with the other half of U.S. smartphone owners and the vast majority of smartphone owners in the world.”

How can publishers optimize for Google?

To ensure inclusion in the Google Podcasts app, podcast creators have to follow the developer guidelines, which has been updated with a few new sections covering how to:

  • Prompt Google to index new podcasts as quickly as possible
  • Generate a direct link to your podcast
  • Download the Google Podcasts brand assets for sharing on your website
  • Track analytics that come from Google Podcasts

The company is also partnering with the podcast industry on a program to increase the diversity of voices and remove barriers to podcasting. Publishers interested in the Google Podcasts creator program have to fill out this online form.

What’s Next?

Moving forward, Google expects the Podcasts app to be a launchpad for building better podcast listening experiences using AI.

For example, with rapid improvement in speech-to-text technology, the company will soon be able to provide advanced features like automatic subtitling, which is particularly helpful for the hearing impaired, or in noisy areas without headphones.

To try out the new Google Podcasts app, visit the Play store.