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Decoding 5 Common Podcasting Terms

Have you ever been lost in a new city? You turn left when you should’ve turned right, the street signs are in a different language, and you’re driving on the other side of the road…whilst on the other side of the car!  It’s easy to get lost when you’re not in your natural element…but getting lost in your hometown, on your own streets (in your own sensibly designed vehicle!) is something that should happen a lot less frequently, if at all. 

If you’re a podcaster, then the world of podcasting should feel like home – jargon, acronyms and buzzwords should fall neatly in the scope of your first language. You should not feel lost in your very own industry, doing the very thing that you’re passionate about.

In today’s article, we want to demystify and decode some common podcasting terms.  Let this blog serve as your road to help navigate some of the trickier twists and turns in our podcasting world, and soon it will all feel like home! 

1. RSS

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RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  Like the name says, it’s simple, right? Well, let’s decode this term a little further.

In their explanation of podcast syndication, the clever guys and gals at BackTracks describe RSS feeds as a way of delivering content which is constantly changing (read: your podcast episodes, titles, audio files, metadata, etc).  This is clean and efficient, as rather than having to manually update a page that a user must then manually navigate to, RSS feeds “push” changes automatically as they are made, such as uploading new episodes of a podcast. 

“RSS readers, podcatchers, and aggregators “listen” for these pushes and when they receive one, they update the user’s content accordingly, in the case of podcasts, downloading the new episode.”

The RSS feed is like a doting valet – it displays the title of your episode, as well as a description, and will whisk you away to the original content with a limousine (read:  Not quite as fancy, but definitely more efficient). The benefit?

“This helps you to quickly weed through what interests you and what doesn’t. When you find something you like, you can click through for the full content.”

Using an aggregator, or podcatcher (more on that, coming right up), you’ll see brief and basic information about the full content. These are posted in chronological order so that the top entry is the latest published entry.

Related Read: How Do RSS Feeds Work?

2. Podcatcher

No, it’s not a handy tool that recycles the little plastic containers on your new coffee machine. And no, it’s not a fictitious character in black and white striped overalls, a fedora and handy net for swiping unsuspecting podcast episodes (..I think that guy’s called the Hamburgler!).

“Aggregators,” “syndicators,” and “podcatchers” are loosely interchangeable terms that, for the most part, are used synonymously. “Podcatcher” is the one that often draws the most blank looks so we’ll use that to explain.  

If we dig deep enough in the archives of Indiana University’s online Knowledge Base, we’ll find a great definition to help us: 

“A podcatcher is an application you can use to subscribe to podcasts; the podcatcher automatically downloads podcasts as they are posted to a site. Podcatchers can also transfer downloaded podcast files to a portable media player such (e.g., an iPod)…”

Erm…yeah, they just said iPod.  Did I mention this definition was in the Knowledge Base archives? Haha!  It continues:

“ …A podcatcher is a special type of news aggregator; while news aggregators retrieve several types of syndicated web content…podcatchers are geared specifically toward podcasts.”

Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Stitcher are all examples of podcatchers (or aggregators, or even syndicators, if you prefer).  Now that that’s cleared up, let’s move on to a much more modern buzzword that has been causing some pretty exciting waves…

3. Social Audio

New kids on the tech block Clubhouse and Stereo have created much chatter in a new social space – Social Audio.  We even seeing social media giants wanting to stake their claim in this new land, as Twitter introduces Spaces, and Facebook gets busy working on their own offerings.  And this is just to name a few.  In his Web Strategist article, Silicon Valley based industry analyst, Jeremiah Owyang, enumerates 40 new companies who have entered or are getting ready to enter the space.

“While podcast audio has been around for some time, it’s a one-way broadcast medium, meaning it’s recorded for listening in the future. Social audio differs in that it’s real-time audio that allows listeners to actively participate in the dialog.

Founder of the Social Media Examiner, Michael Stelzner, highlights the important fact that people consuming and participating in social audio want authentic, human dialog.  You have to really grasp this dynamic when trying to understand Social Audio and its meteoric rise. 

For example, when you hear someone’s voice, your understanding of what they’re saying is influenced by their intonation.

Owyang further unpacks this new phenomenon:

“While this contextual understanding is also supported in real-time video conversations on platforms such as Zoom, appearing on video means you have to pay attention to the way you look, your background, and other factors. Social audio is voice-only so there’s no need to worry about how you look or what’s in your background. It’s basically a Goldilocks medium; not too much, not too little… just right.”

Related Read: Social Audio: What It Means for Marketers and Businesses

Social Audio is all about engagement. When examining your listeners engagement with the content you produce for your podcast, another acronym you may see fired around is…

4. KPIs 

Podcasting KPIs are Key Performance Indicators; they’re measurable performance that can help you monitor each aspect of your podcast’s performance.  Chris Land is the owner and creator of, a site dedicated to providing actionable solutions for podcast creators.  In his article he gives invaluable information on podcasting KPIs that you simply need to know!  For instance, being aware of your podcast Key Performance Indicators will allow you to:

  1. Advertise on the right podcast with your target audience so that you don’t waste your dollars targeting people who will not take action.
  2. Select an ad type that will appear attractive to your target audience.
  3. Track your KPIs and ROI so that you’re aware of how your advertisement is performing to tweak it as needed and use the feedback to create more effective ones down the road.

To achieve success with podcasting, you need to monitor a set of podcast performance metrics regularly. Always strive to keep an eye on the following podcast metrics in the following categories:

  1. Performance
  2. Audience Geographies
  3. Popular Content and Listener Behaviour
  4. Engagement
  5. Marketing Effectiveness

Monitor your metrics regularly, analyze changes, and adjust your plan of action so you can always be ahead of the game.

Related Read: 55 Best Podcast Performance Metrics (KPIs) You Need to Track

Another category Key Performance Indicator that is worth paying attention to is your Financial Results Metric.  Advertising is a key contributor to this KPI.  

And lastly, let’s demystify a common advertising acronym unique to the podcasting world…

5. DAI

Dynamic Ad Insertion is pretty much as cool as it sounds.  In his Forbes article exploring the usefulness of DAI, Kurt Kaufer’s provides a succinct definition:

“[A dynamically inserted ad] is served through an ad server and is inserted upon receipt of a podcast file request…New ads are inserted into content on-demand and offer publishers and hosts the ability to continuously monetize the same episodes over time as the original ads aren’t persistent like baked-in ads are…Thus, episodes that were recorded two years ago will have new advertising continuously going forward.”

There are many types of ads that can be integrated into your podcast show, however DAI is unique in it’s application: when a podcaster uses DAI they leverage their hosting platform’s interfaces, using them to set time stamp markers with which to automatically insert your advertiser’s organic, curated, customized ad. 

Pretty cool, right?! This is the innovative partnership of technology and podcaster personality, the marriage of man and machine! It cuts down on the work required by both the podcaster whilst avoiding becoming stale and irrelevant, and that kind of automation is great (almost as cool as self driving cars…almost!). 

If Dynamic Ad insertion is really piquing your curiosity, this article by Brian Barletta is a must read!  He writes:

“First off, it allows the host and editor to stay focused on episode content, offloading ad placement to an ad ops team. Breaking ad runs out doesn’t cause the podcast editor any more work beyond marking the ad insertion positions in each media file. They’re still going to edit the episode and the ads themselves. But once that’s done, they simply provide the episode file to the ad ops team for scheduling and monitoring to the terms of any campaign insertion orders or agreements. Division of labor, for the win!…The end result is a seamless audio file, with ads dynamically inserted into the episode.”

DAI is an acronym worth knowing and becoming acquainted with if you want to make your podcast more efficient, and more profitable.

In Conclusion

You should feel at home in the world of podcasting. These aren’t the cold, mean streets, this is your neighborhood.  Acronyms like “RSS,” “KPI,” and “DAI” should be warm and familiar, terms like “Social Audio” should never leave you feeling socially awkward, and buzzwords “Podcatcher” should never catch you out.  Invest in learning the language of the land, using today’s article as a launching pad, and you will become fluent and comfortable with the industry’s lingo as if it were your very own mother tongue.  Superstar podcaster, go forward and explore!

1., Podcast Syndication

2., 55 Best Podcast Performance Metrics (KPIs) You Need to Track

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