Podcast users to be ‘tracked’ through new analytics tech

With the growing trend of following Internet users through ads with ads that follow them around, search histories getting stored, emails that report back and much more, the podcast industry is also set to mimeograph the same. The podcast industry will now track detailed user behaviour, reports stated.

NPR has announced RAD, a new, open-sourced podcast analytics technology that was developed in partnership with nearly 30 companies from the podcasting industry. The technology aims to help publishers collect more comprehensive and standardised listening metrics from across platforms, reports have said.

The technology gives publishers — and, therefore, their advertisers, as well — access to a wide range of listener metrics, including downloads, starts and stops, completed ad or credit listens, partial ad or credit listens, ad or credit skips and content quartiles, the RAD website explains. However, the technology stops short of offering detailed user profiles, and cannot be used to re-target or track listeners, the site notes. It’s still anonymised, aggregated statistics.

It is worth pointing out that this isn’t the first time podcasters have been able to track engagement as major platforms, including Apple’s Podcast Analytics, today offer granular and anonymised data.

But NPR says that data requires ‘a great deal of manual analysis’ as the stats aren’t standardised or as complete as they could be. RAD is an attempt to change that by offering a tracking mechanism everyone can use.

In addition to being integrated into NPR’s own NPR One app, RAD has commitments from several others that will introduce the technology into their own products in 2019, including Acast, AdsWizz, ART19, Awesound, Blubrry Podcasting, Panoply, Omny Studio, Podtrac, PRI/PRX, RadioPublic, Triton Digital and WideOrbit.

Other companies that supported RAD and participated in its development include Cadence13, Edison Research, ESPN, Google, iHeartMedia, Libsyn, The New York Times, New York Public Radio and Wondery. NPR says the NPR One app on Android supports RAD as of now, and its iOS app will do the same in 2019.

“Over the course of the past year, we have been refining these concepts and the technology in collaboration with some of the smartest people in podcasting from around the world,” vice president, New Platform Partnerships at NPR, Joel Sucherman, said in an announcement.

“We needed to take painstaking care to prove out our commitment to the privacy of listeners, while providing a standard that the industry could rally around in our collective efforts to continue to evolve the podcasting space,” he said.

To use RAD technology, publishers will mark within their audio files certain points — like quartiles or some time markers, interview spots, sponsorship messages or ads — with RAD tags and indicate an analytics URL.

A mobile app is configured to read the RAD tags and then, when listeners hit that spot in the file, that information is sent to the URL in an anonymised format. The end result is that podcasters will know just the parts of the audio file their listeners have heard and will be able to track this at scale across platforms.

Praveen Kumar S