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Top Podcasts reportedly gaming system to boost rankings



top podcasters

In the competitive world of podcasting, maintaining a spot in the top charts is paramount for visibility and success. However, a recent Bloomberg report has shed light on a concerning trend among some podcasters who are allegedly gaming the system to artificially inflate their rankings.

According to the report, nine of America’s top 50 podcasts, including the popular show Call Her Daddy, have been offering mobile game users incentives to interact with their content. Marketing company MowPod, utilized by several prominent podcasts, provides a tool that promises to elevate a podcast’s position in the Apple Podcasts Charts through undisclosed methods.

The tool, which targets mobile game users, encourages them to “Follow Call Her Daddy on Apple Podcasts” in exchange for tokens within the game. Users who click through are directed to a landing page for the podcast, where they can subscribe or listen to recent episodes. MowPod CEO Mike Wiston clarified that users only need to reach the landing page to receive tokens, not necessarily follow or engage with the content.

Despite the lack of transparency surrounding MowPod’s methods, the tool has proven highly effective in boosting follower counts, downloads, and listening time for podcasts. Wiston disclosed that customers pay $5 per new follower, with a minimum spend requirement of $5,000.

For podcasters like Alex Cooper, host of Call Her Daddy, securing a top position in the charts can significantly impact their success. Cooper’s podcast, which recently launched on Apple Podcasts in January, quickly climbed to the number two spot on the platform. However, fluctuations in rankings across different platforms, such as Spotify, are not uncommon, as highlighted in a recent profile of Cooper by The New York Times.

Bloomberg’s investigation identified a total of 37 podcasts, including those from major networks like Netflix, iHeartMedia, Wondery, and Lemonada, using MowPod’s service to boost rankings. The practice essentially involves purchasing gamer rewards for following and engaging with podcasts, albeit at a premium price.

While the use of such tactics may raise questions about the integrity of podcast rankings, Wiston emphasized that a significant portion of followers acquired through the in-game ads tend to remain long-term listeners. However, concerns remain about the impact of artificially inflated rankings on the visibility and discoverability of genuine podcast content.

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