The redesigned landing pages are a nice upgrade from the static image that served as nothing more than a landing page for opening the iTunes app. (yeah, I said it, it’s still iTunes on a desktop) The old preview sites would take 24-48 hours to refresh while these appear to be updating faster. And nearly every click on the web-based podcast preview page took you into the desktop program.
Why This Change Matters
This is probably one of the earliest, yet biggest hurdles, that potential podcast consumers face. For many people, the idea of having to wait for iTunes to open, or download for the first time, is a huge source of friction. If you have it, you know it can be a little clunky. If you don’t, you may not be interested in downloading a huge program onto your computer just to sample a podcast. Some of you may not even be able to because you are on a work machine.
And it was recently reported in The Podcast Consumer 2019, from Triton Digital and Edison Research, that one of the most frequently used sources to discover new podcasts by monthly consumers is internet search. Imagine how many people did just this and then abandoned the process because a “Listen on Apple Podcasts” button led them to this software trap?
With that said, this new design is a nice upgrade, with the best one being that it actually allows users the ability to play individual episodes of the podcast right there from their browser. All of this sounds like a positive for the podcast producer.
Apple Giveth, Apple Taketh Away
There is one subtle change that will have a significant impact on the podcaster. There is no longer a direct link to the “podcast website” that existed on the bottom left corner of the preview page previously
It was one of a few links on the iTunes Preview page that could point people back to your digital homepage and out of Apple’s ecosystem. Whatever you include in your <link> tag in the RSS feed. Useful since you are probably smart enough to feature several different subscribe options and essential ways to connect.
In the refreshed feed, that option is gone. Go and check for yourself, I’ll wait.
So while Apple is not forcing you into iTunes, they are also preventing traffic from heading to your website. Forgetting this link could have just been an oversight and easily corrected, but it does feel like a significant change that will negatively impact the producer.
Notably, if you click and expand individual episodes in the new landing pages, you have the option for the episode URL.
You may have some control over that depending on the hosting company you use, but my experience is that a lot of people aren’t thinking about this link because it never came up before.
In this case, that link would take you to the website created by the hosting company. For the episode displayed above it would be the page generated by Simplecast. Which is not controlled by Apple, but still, probably won’t get people to come back to your website where you meaningful engagement with you can happen.
Here’s hoping we can get Apple to bring back this feature quickly.