Tech Lab Updates Podcast Ad Measurement, Grapples With File Downloads

An IAB Tech Lab working group has released guidelines and advancements that address measuring downloads, audiences, and ad delivery of podcasts.

Podcast ad revenue is expected to reach about $4 billion by 2025 -- more than doubling since 2022, according to the IAB Podcast Advertising Revenue Study conducted by PwC U.S.

The report makes the argument that podcast listeners are the most loyal and engaged audience of any digital media, so the need for enhanced metrics and improved filtering logic in server-side measurement becomes crucial.

The Podcast Technical Measurement Guidelines v2.2 updates will remain open for public comment until March 23.

The updates are intended to address the challenges in measuring podcast audio file downloads, where client-side confirmation of playing an ad is unavailable from the player apps that consumers use for listening to their favorite shows.



Podcast content is downloaded and measured based on server logs, whereas other digital media keeps an open connection between a consumer’s device and the content server. This nuance produces different metrics.

The challenge for podcast producers and distributors is to offer buyers a set of metrics that is consistently defined and measured equally across the medium.

A fragmented ecosystem allows consumers to access podcasts from different locations across the web whenever they want, with any podcast app or on websites. That is the benefit -- the ability for creators and advertisers to reach a larger audience.

The ability to track podcast content and ad playback largely depends on the player requesting the file.

Podcast aggregator apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify do not send playback data to publishers.

Host-branded players owned by the podcast producers can provide playback data for podcasts consumed using their branded app, but the playback data represents limited reach because the majority of listeners prefer aggregator apps over host-branded ones, according to the report.

The 28-page document outlines recommended process for measurement, time in which to calculate the data, identify and aggregate unique downloads and listeners, and much more.

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