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IAB releases its newest Podcast Measurement Guidelines
This second version, offered as a draft in July, tightens up standards to measure ads and audience for this booming medium.
Podcasting ad revenues are expected to jump 85 percent this year compared to last, from $119 million to $220 million.
But that estimate by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) assumes that advertisers are fairly happy with how the podcasts, ads and audiences are measured. In further support of that aim, the IAB has released the final version 2 of its Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines.
A draft version was offered in July for comments following the September 2016 release of version 1.
“Common measurement practices are like oxygen,” wrote NPR Senior Director of Audience Insights Steve Muldur in an IAB blog post announcing the new Guidelines. “When they are absent, everyone notices immediately and the result is painful.”
“When they are present, the industry evolves and flourishes.”
The newest edition, RawVoice/Blubrry CEO Todd Cochran told me, “tightens up the measurement stack” compared to its earlier incarnation. His company helped write the document.
For instance, he said, the previous Guidelines started measurement from the beginning of the MP3 file, even though the first segment downloaded is generally any related graphics and metadata, not audio. The newest Guidelines specify that measurement begins after the graphics/metadata and after a minute of audio has been delivered.
There’s also the new specification that the same IP address and user agent (found in the playback app) within a 24-hour period is considered the same person, even if they are seen more than once in that time period. But if it’s the same IP and different apps, it’s considered two listeners.
Other specs in the new Guidelines focus on such items as eliminating bot requests and providing more best practices, but in general, the new Guidelines are not dramatically different from their predecessor.
With more than 30 podcasting industry companies writing this new document, Cochran said, there’s broad agreement that it will “help level the playing field” for standardization of measurement and for achieving third-party certification, which is not widely available in the industry right now.
Cochran noted that the new Technical Guidelines primarily focus on server-side data, although that might change at some point. The Media Rating Council (MRC), he said, will only certify podcasting measurement of client-side data, which is difficult to fake.
But there has been little client-side data until very recently, he noted, when Apple announced that it will start reporting playback specs from its iOS Podcast App.
While there was some server-side fraud in the early days of podcasting by the creators themselves, he said, “in the past few years, fraud has not been an issue.” The bigger issue, he said, has been that, until the IAB’s two Technical Guidelines, not everyone was measuring by the same standards.
The IAB has clearly jumped aboard the podcasting train in the last few years. In addition to these Technical Guidelines, it released the first Buyer’s Guide for Podcast Advertising this past August. And in September, it hosted its third annual Podcast Upfront in New York City.