Many podcasters view Google’s recent entry into the podcasting world with a healthy dose of skepticism, and they’re not wrong.
See, while podcasts have always been part of the iTunes store, iOS device users have never known the Android struggle of finding the perfect app to listen to their favorite podcasts on the go.
If you’re already a fan of Google Play Music, now you won’t have to use a separate app to keep up with your regular podcasts. Google Play Music will now include podcasts in their streaming service.
This is certainly a step in the right direction for Google, but should your podcast hop on this train so soon?
Today we’re going to talk about all the positives and negatives of Google Play Music and your podcast so you can determine if it’s worth exploring for your show.
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What is Google Play Music?
Google Play has branches for each of the different parts of their digital library, such as Google Play Books and Google Play Games for their respective content.
Podcasts will now be part of Google Play Music, the on-demand streaming service of 35 million songs that’s available for paid and free account holders.
Since Google syncs up your playback history across all your devices, you’ll always be able to pause and pick up exactly where you leave off in your episodes, no matter which device you’re using.
While this sounds great for podcast listeners, there are a few minor downsides for them—as well as for podcast creators.
Downsides that Need to be Improved
Google may be working out the kinks of their new podcast features, or they may just be doing things their way and these lackluster features will be here forever.
Here’s what you should know before you add your podcast to the Google directory:
You Can’t Review or Rate Podcasts
Listeners are not allowed to rate or review podcasts in the Google Play Music store, which is a major bummer for podcast creators.
This often-overlooked feature is standard in the iTunes store and makes a big difference in listener numbers for beginning podcasters.
Before new listeners check out your show, they’re going to read a few reviews to see if you’re worth their time. When potential audience members stumble on your podcast in Google Play, they won’t have the same nudge to download your episode that a stellar review from a long time fan would.
Keep Scrolling for Search Results
Unless your podcast has an unusual or unique title, it’s going to be challenging for listeners to find your show in Google Play thanks to the way they organize their search results.
Unlike dedicated podcast apps, when you search for a specific podcast in Google Play Music, you have to sift through all the music results (songs, albums, playlists, radio, etc.) before reaching the podcasts. Yes, these are at the very end of the search results list.
Now, as tedious as this sounds for listeners, this may have more to do with the specific Google way of listening to music or podcasts and less about a perceived design flaw.
As Elias Roman, the product manager for Google Play Music, explains:
“When we look at the future of music, we think it’s not about searching and browsing at all. It’s much less about how people find things, and much more about how things find people.”
Google wants to curate contextual listening to ensure that you always have the right content for whatever task you’re doing. This, coupled with our next issue, is not helpful for podcast creators who need their show in front of as many curious eyes as possible.
A Confusing Directory
Google hasn’t quite figured out how they want to organize their podcast library. Some podcasts are organized with the title of the podcast listed as the “Artist”. With other podcasts, the title of the podcast is listed as its own “Album”.
If you’re hoping to add more organic traffic to your podcast with the help of Google Play, think again.
It’s not only hard for listeners to find shows they actually know about thanks to the wonky search results (see above), but it’s almost impossible for potential listeners to stumble on a show they’ve never heard about when the organization doesn’t make sense.
Google’s categorized their podcasts into 16 genres:
- Games and hobbies
- Government and organizations
- Kids and families
- News and politics
- Religion and spirituality
- Science and medicine
- Society and culture
- Sports and recreation
- TV and film
These are fairly standard. So, your audience members can choose their field of interest and browse for your show, right?
Here’s the catch: Google will only feature 50 podcasts in each category. The story is that those with higher rankings will be shown near the top—similar to Google search results. But what it takes to actually make it in this top 50 is still somewhat of a mystery.
There’s No Way to Manually Add a Feed
If you’re a regular subscriber of several podcasts, you’re probably used to manually adding each podcast feed to your chosen podcast player. Unfortunately, Google Play won’t let you import a podcast feed—and they won’t let your user export them either.
No Individual User Playlists
Want to organize your latest Radiolab, Joe Rogan Experience, and This American Life episodes for that long, boring commute you have coming up?
Normally you’d create a playlist of these individual episodes and just hit play to keep your favorite podcasters on queue the whole day.
You can’t do that with Google Play, which may turn off a lot of users.
You Can’t Have Links in Your Description
When you’re listening via the browser version, you’ll see that the titles and descriptions of your podcast episodes don’t have much room to stand on their own and run into each other, making them pretty hard to read.
However, if you’re listening on the Android app, you’ll see that episode titles take the forefront while the full episode descriptions can be found by tapping the “i” information button. This separation is cleaner and easier to read at a glance.
Google Play may have taken a nod from Instagram, because their episode descriptions do not allow HTML. This means you can’t add links to provide your listeners with more information or send them to your website to read your show notes and click on links from your sponsors.
This is a downfall for both creators and listeners.
Will Google Play Ads During Your Podcast?
Google admits that it will not add its own pre-roll or mid-roll (beginning/middle) ads to your podcast.
You’ll be allowed to do your same ads with your sponsors, as long as they comply with Google’s ad policies.
Keep in mind that Google still has the right to change this and start advertising any way they wish, be it audio ads between your episodes or a video ad at the start. Google’s policy also mentions that if it does decide to start rolling ads during your show, that revenue will not be shared with you, the podcast creator.
Should You Use Google Play for Your Podcast?
In a poll conducted by Android Authority, 30% of visitors said they plan on switching to Google Play Music to listen to their podcasts; 26% said they were sticking to their current apps.
However, despite the drawbacks of Google Play, you should add your podcast to as many libraries as you can—especially if it’s free to do so.
Unless you’re sending out a survey to your listeners or asking them questions to engage in a discussion via social media, you won’t ever know how many listeners you exclude by not including your podcast in Google Play. And, really, it can’t hurt to add your podcast there.
Plus, now that you know the pitfalls and downsides, you can figure out a plan to work around them and make Google Play a success for your show.
[content_upgrade cu_id=”2056″]Bonus: Follow these step-by-step instructions to submit your podcast to Google Play Music. Subscribe today to receive your free cheat sheet!