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Is there REAL value in transcribing your podcasts?

By July 18, 2012December 2nd, 202011 Comments

Remember that supply and demand balance you were taught in economics 101? It’s an extremely elastic balance — when the demand goes up, supply tries to catch up or the price of the service/product increases. While if the supply is more than the demand, the prices tank until the supply matches the demand. Quite similar to what happened globally during the global financial crisis back in 2008. The property developers went crazy and built skyscrapers as quickly as they could with no analysis of demand and supply.

OK, don’t pull your hair out just yet! If you’re thinking what’s all this to do with transcribing podcasts, then you’re a normal curious person. As a fast moving and rapidly iterating crowd-sourcing startup, we’ve been developing thought leadership in a variety of market segments that create and deliver value by transcribing their rich media (audio/video) content into text for different reasons.

Although podcasting as a media segment has been available for a while, it is still in early growth phase. Consumers in the USA & UK are ahead of all other nations in adopting it as a primary way of consuming content. According to the Pew Research Centre’s report in 2010, the number of available podcasts increased 28% from 69,860 to 89,455. The numbers of listeners have also seen a steady growth and have doubled in the last 5 years from 11% to 23%. These are encouraging numbers for podcasting as a medium for distributing information and building a following.

However, the challenge with audio/video content is that it is not marketable or searchable and sharable,to search engines. Search engines, including Google, cannot index audio or video files, right now anyway.  So all that incredibly powerful, search engine loving content you are producing in your podcasts is not being indexed by Google to give you some SEO love!

Why You Should Transcribe Your Podcasts?

So here is how the theory (and the pitch!) goes — you should transcribe your podcast and publish it on your blog to make it searchable, easily shareable and marketable. This will result in better search rankings, increased time on pages, decreased bounce rates, increased traffic and ultimately, an increase in subscribers and ad revenue. Sounds easily believable, right? Makes logical sense? Of course it does! As any internet marketer would agree, transcribing your podcasts would be a gold mine for SEO. The majority of transcription companies, including us, are on a mission to educate podcasters on why they should be transcribing their podcasts.

What we found?

However, based on our market research, customer analysis, interviews and understanding of the podcasting market, the current value proposition is not good enough for the majority of podcasters. Why? Here are some fundamental reasons:

  • More than 90% of podcasters are individual podcasters not a corporate or an organization.
  • Most podcasters do it as a hobby not a business or a money making venture.
  • For those who podcast as a profession, they have slim margins and are unwilling to spend money on transcription.
  • A lot of them podcast to establish themselves as a thought leader in their industry segment and don’t necessarily strive for better search rankings.
  • DADDY OF ALL REASONS: Lack of comprehensive case studies or data to establish the relation between transcribing podcast’s and increase in subscribers, or revenue, or any other quantitative metric.

How does the supply-demand balance stack up?

This is a classic case of how an industry has identified a market where there should a logical demand for their services and are trying to educate that particular segment of the benefits. Furthermore, it is also an example of more supply than demand that is evident by:

  • The huge number of ads and competition present on Google when you search for “podcast transcription”, “transcribing your podcasts” or similar.
  • Number of transcription companies producing content targeted toward the podcasting segment and educating them on why they should be transcribing their podcasts.

On the demand side, things are relatively muted:

  • Based on the keyword data from Google, there are less than 400 searches per month globally for “podcast transcription” (exact match) and similar keywords related to podcast transcription.

Evidently, there is a clear loophole in the market analysis due to the lack of case studies and proof of the value the service adds to the target market segment. Consequently, there is an increasing supply of the transcription services for podcasters but not so much demand from the market.

The Way Forward

So what can we do as an industry? Rather than teaching podcasters on how to get better at podcasting, we need to be mature and develop hard data and facts to develop strong data lead case studies and methodologies to test our assumptions and help podcasters to grow their subscribers, revenue, or any other relevant metrics. We believe this is key to growing the market pie and to justify why transcription services could be hugely powerful for podcasters.

We’ve seen some encouraging, very early stage data, to show that blog posts containing a podcast along with a transcript increases the average time on page by 2.5x relative to the overall blog average. Of course, this is not the best test as it lacks a split testing aspect of comparing, a post with the transcript, with a post without the transcript. That is definitely something we’re going to test going forward. Along with that, it is an extremely small sample size. However, it’s a start and we’re looking forward to sharing our findings with you going forward. So make sure you subscribe to this blog to receive updates on when new, awesome and relevant content is posted.

We’re excited to work on establishing this correlation for podcasters to learn from, and understand the value of transcribing their podcasts with high accuracy.

If you would like to work with us, please tell us in the comments below and we’d love to get in touch. Alternatively, if you have any other comments to share or case studies to point to, please feel free to share the link in the comments below.

Written By Chirag Ahuja



  • Dave Jackson says:

    I’d be willing to do a case study. I have never transcribed my podcast, so we could do a before and after and monitor the difference.

    • Chirag Ahuja says:

      Hi @twitter-60604290:disqus, Yes you are definitely right. Are you currently doing this test on your podcast? The whole Podcasting community would love to see the results and get some insights from your leadership.

      Would you like to share how you have setup this test? What metrics you are tracking and how exactly you are split testing this?

      I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  • PeterWood says:

    As a long time outdoor podcaster I could see the benefits of transcribing my Hunt Talk show on Ripple Outdoors. Cost would be the main issue and time consumed.

    • Chirag Ahuja says:

      Hi @twitter-19048804:disqus, thanks for sharing your thoughts! How long have you been podcasting for? Have you transcribed your podcasts before? Would you like to share your results with us? When you say cost would be the main issue, it depends whats the objective your podcast. Is your podcast profitable? Do you make money out of it? Or is it mainly to become a thought leader in your industry?

      With regards to time, it shouldn’t be that big of an issue. With 98% accurate transcripts available within 24 hours of submitting your podcasts, it is hardly a time problem in my opinion. However, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

      • PeterWood says:

        Since my show started in Oct 2006 I have had about 300 interviews.While Hunt Talk does have some sponsors commercials covering basic costs it doesn’t cover my time conducting all the behind efforts required to keep my show in the top 50 on iTunes outdoor podcasts. I know transcribing podcast shows would help with SEO efforts as some of my short transcribed YouTube videos indicated. I have transcribed the video with Dragon with limited resulted.
        Transcribing a two person interview takes too much time.
        Once I find a reliable and affordable way to transcribe both podcast/video segments I know Google would find and rate my Ripple Outdoors site higher.

        • Chirag Ahuja says:

          Hi @twitter-19048804:disqus, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s great to learn from experienced podcasters like you. You are right — using Dragon is quite disappointing as accuracy is really low. It is only good for single speaker and that too when you speak clearly — like a robot — in a quiet place. Not the run of the mill environment for anything, really. When you say you are looking for a affordable way to transcribe your podcast/video segment, what sort of cost range would work for you? Automation is low accuracy. While human transcriptions is highly accuracy, however has a higher cost. However, the key issue that we should be addressing it — whats the value transcribing brings to my business? Whats the ROI of having podcasts transcribed? SEO = More Traffic = More subscribers = More revenue?

  • davethackeray says:

    Noone doubts the value of transcribing value-packed podcasts – but since for many podcasting is a hobby or a nice-to-have, sticking an extra cost into the equation in addition to time is a bridge too far for most.

    I’m investigating having my transcriptions sponsored. It’s the only way I can justify it to my pocket.

    • Chirag Ahuja says:

      Hi @davethackeray:disqus, That is interesting. it seems like you’ve no doubt whatsoever that there is value in transcribing podcasts. While in theory it is very hard to disagree with, the podcasting community would love to see some statistics straight out of google analytics that quantify this value. Is there something you’d like to share?

      Top suggestion of having your transcriptions sponsored. I think more podcasters should consider this, specially, if you’re an expert in a particular niche, then you can have a company selling services in a similar industry to sponsor your podcast.

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  • Someone says:

    Podcast content creators, by default, will likely be people who can hear fine. For that reason, I don’t blame them for not seeing how scary it is to the 30 to 48 million Americans who have some degree of hearing loss to see the gradual movement of Internet content from text to audio. There are some blogs with cutting edge information whose entire content is in the form of audio. A few years ago, this information would have been text instead — and accessible to anyone with hearing loss.

    For many people with hearing loss, the Internet is a liberation of information access. When information is presented in text form, it is accessible to everyone — even the blind using text-to-audio readers. But when information is presented in audio, it is unfortunately not accessible to everyone — leaving out as many as 48 million Americans who have hearing loss.

    It is a Godsend when transcripts accompany podcasts. Someday, there may be automatic speech-to-text software that can automate the process and put it within the budget of the podcast hobbyist (possibly even free).

    I understand why a cost-benefit analysis would be performed. I would ask that you consider accessibility concerns as well. In text form, your content is accessible to literally everyone in the world with a computer, Internet connection, Google Translate, and possibly a braille output device for the blind. With audio-only content, you are leaving out a pool of 45 million people with hearing loss in the United States alone — to say nothing of the world wide population of people with hearing loss. That’s a lot of people.

    If you cover the same information in text content, that’s awesome and I thank you. I think that works very well. But if you cover topics in podcast (audio-only) form, then you’re leaving out a lot of people with hearing loss.

    I just wanted to add that perspective to the conversation here. Thank you.

    (Documentation of the number of Americans with hearing loss: )

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