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Evolution of Podcast Metrics




By Rockie Thomas

Like many new digital media formats, Podcasting is the marriage of old and new. It combines the strengths of traditional radio’s episodic spoken word, great creative narrative and effective advertising formats, with the strengths of digital media’s diverse distribution and consumption choices that can literally be placed in a listener’s pocket.

Like any marriage, it is not without its inherited challenges. Before the high speed mobile networks of today, the large size of a podcast file required it be downloaded via RSS feed, usually via iTunes, to the listeners’ iPod or computer for later consumption. Although the legacy consumption method of downloading podcasts is still popular today, it does not provide the data granularity digital media buyers require.

Podcast audio ads―typically dry reads or talent endorsements―are formatted to integrate seamlessly with the content, much like the “one to many” broadcast advertising model still used in AM/FM radio today. To optimize inventory yield and value to advertisers and listeners, many podcast publishers are adopting dynamic one to one audio ad insertion. This creates podcasting’s present challenge: Standardizing advertising metrics in a medium with equally strong but different audio creative options (stitched in vs. dynamic) with diverse listener consumption abilities (online and offline).

Combine this complexity with critical mass numbers (57 million Americans ages 12+ have listened to a podcast in the past month according to Edison Research’s 2016 Infinite Dial study) and what arises is a multidimensional data challenge. Even with its inherit challenges, some advertisers are already fans of podcast advertising, since their ROI is based on direct response. Other advertisers―mostly brands―are keen to invest ad dollars against this audience, but need data parity found in other digital mediums to transact programmatically.

Much like the Average Quarter Hour (AQH) measurement standard created over 50 years ago to measure radio programs of the day, podcasting too must define standardized metrics to bring advertising diversity to the medium.

The IAB Podcast Ad Metrics Guidelines goal is to improve standards and increase buyer confidence by standardizing how we measure the ads listeners hear, on and offline, providing advertisers a closer parity to data extrapolated on other mediums. The collaborative effort of several companies made this paper possible and illustrates the podcast industry’s commitment to find common ground and support continued growth. Like a good story, the medium, and the advertising industry in general, podcast ad metrics will continue to evolve. And as always, we look forward to the next episode.


Rockie Thomas
Rockie simulcast her first FM radio station online in 1998 and discovered her love for digital audio technology. For over 18 years Rockie has worked not only with traditional broadcast companies, including AMFM and Emmis, but has helped pioneer the digital audio space. Working at companies such as Sonicbox, Spacial Audio and McVay New Media, Rockie has helped make digital audio a viable medium and business. Most recently Rockie was part of the Tribune Broadcasting team as their VP, Digital Sales, responsible for developing the digital sales division before joining AdsWizz as VP, Business Development. At AdsWizz she evangelizes audio advertising to buyers and helps publishers monetize their digital assets through AdsWizz audio ad insertion technology, a global exchange, and programmatic tools.