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NPR wants to know which podcast ads you are skipping

NPR has a plan to find out how many people actually hear podcasts, but whether this is possible depends on one of the biggest names in the industry: Apple.

NPR's Remote Audio Data System (RAD), previously introduced This month, podcasters know whether people are listening to their shows, and in particular the ads embedded in them. This knowledge might be a blessing to the growing ad-supported industry, but RAD's success depends on Apple – a company that does not normally hand over consumer data – and agrees to join.

The podcast industry is booming thanks to ads. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers US, revenue of $ 659 million is expected in 2020. In 201

7, it was $ 314 million. However, when it comes to podcast analysis, it's a cause for everyone: There's no such thing as a massive, third-party success factor, like Nielsen's for TV ratings, which gives advertisers a clear idea of ​​how a show can compete with its competitors ,

Currently, advertisers rely almost entirely on downloads to determine the value of advertising in a podcast. However, they can not tell if a show is frequently downloaded but barely heard, or if it has a small but passionate fan base that consumes each program in its entirety. Also, you can not say if only your ad was skipped, but the entire show was actually heard. This is a problem for podcasters who want to get to know the habits of their listeners as well as for advertisers who want to spend effectively.

Advertisers expect the industry to develop more detailed handset data, says Dennis Buchheim, who heads the IAB's Tech Lab. "During the podcasting industry, advertisers will look for measurement and attribution techniques that are available in other forms of digital media," he says.

The potential solution of NPR, RAD, requires podcasters to encode specific tags into their episodes that can identify when listeners have reached a particular point in a show, such as an advertiser segment. This information is then sent back to the creator of the podcast, so he can know if certain ads have actually been reached.

"This is something that matters to podcast creators. Stacey Goers, Product Manager for Podcasts and Social Media at NPR, tells The Verge . "From our point of view, this supports the next development in the industry."

NPR already has a mix of partners on board, including standard analytics companies, hosting platforms, smaller consumer platforms, and of course its own NPR app and probably its recently acquired pocket casts. However, one key element is still missing: the places where most people actually hear shows. According to Anchor, more than half of all podcasts come from Apple podcasts. Spotify represents almost a fifth of all listeners, the rest is smaller platforms.

Apple and Spotify have not yet announced support for RAD. Spotify did not respond to a request, and Apple declined to comment. However, NPR confirmed The Verge that Apple employees have given their feedback on the RAD protocol, so Apple's team knows it exists and helped build it.

The platforms may choose RAD to prioritize their own metrics. Spotify began in October with the test of an analytics platform that gives podcasters an insight into the demographics of listeners. Apple is currently testing a beta analytics platform that shows how long listeners will stay, though this is not a substitute for what NPR created. If podcasters want to get a complete overview of their show, they need to put together all these separate pieces of data. On the other hand, RAD would gather all the lists on all platforms in one place.

There are also potential privacy issues. Even if advertisers are excited about more user information, podcast app creators may not be willing to provide that data, and listeners may not be sure their listening session is being tracked. Overcast founder Marco Arment, whose iOS app is a popular third-party alternative, even went so far as to claim that RAD violated the GDPR's new privacy policy. He tweeted about his lack of interest in helping Podcaster monetize listener data. "There is no clear advantage for the app makers (in fact, this requires more work), and it is a violation of privacy and the GDPR that users would likely object to if they understood it," he wrote earlier month.

However, there is a product route to dispel the concerns of the audience. Podcast apps can solve this problem by giving users the opportunity to sign in, says Jake Shapiro, co-founder of the radio app RadioPublic. His company wants to ask listeners to opt for analyzes such as RAD. "It's important to give the listeners a clear sense of when and for what purpose they are being used to tap off," he says.

NPR says that the RAD standard does not provide any personal information to podcasters or advertisers. NPR itself also has no access to information from competitors about competitor shows, the company said. This could have been a legitimate concern for anyone who wants to keep their listener data secret. Still, the standard still needs data, and listeners may feel uncomfortable with the idea that show creators know which ads they've heard and skipped them.

In contrast to other proprietary analyzes, the advantages for listeners are not immediately apparent. For example, RadioPublic has its own tracking system that allows podcast creators to interact with listeners based on their engagement. The New York Times Podcast The Daily used this feature to send a notification to its most dedicated listeners, Shapiro says, prompting them to sign up for a morning newsletter. Conversion rates for this type of promotion are relatively high at a conversion rate of 10 to 20 percent.

The IAB, in turn, wants to set clearer standards regardless of who builds the analytics platform, which is why a certification program was introduced last week to ensure that the analysis is cross-platform consistent. Obviously, advertisers want better metrics for their ads. If they demand detailed audibility before buying an ad, they could lead the industry to broader measurement methods alone. In fact, Buchheim says this is already happening and that "many platforms and publishers" have been informed about the office's new policies and certification. Everyone wants the money to flow into their shows, so they use analytics to reinforce their selling point.

The podcast industry has known that they have had to find a better metric system for years, even when it comes to telling the truth of how many people skip their ads. This information could destroy some shows, but they could also be small, but helping successful names find advertisers who support them. NPR is already a massive unit in the podcasting world, so buying its shows and platforms is a big step to getting the entire industry on board.

But RAD may not be the ultimate winner of the analysis, if there is one. The bigger question is whether the listeners ultimately agree to leave their data to podcasters and their advertisers, or if they even care about it. We have all been persecuted online for years, and only relatively recently has the backlash against creepy ads prevailed. Granted, the majority of people do not give up Instagram, Facebook or Google easily. Podcasts just want to grab the online content space and get that data.

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