As podcasting continues to grow, so does the need to keep advertisers excited about the medium by providing them with the metrics that will help them decide whether their ads are working and their money is well spent. That’s exactly what the IAB set out to do with its newly released guidelines for tracking ad delivery.
The 14-page document covers everything from the kind of ads delivered to how they can be tracked. The IAB says this is the first attempt to describe common practices and provide a common set of metric definitions. “While ad measurement will always produce some discrepancy in any medium, the definitions in this document aim to reduce measurement discrepancies.”
Here’s an example of how complicated measuring ads during a podcast can be. These are two ad-metric definitions detailed as a first step to measure advertising in podcasts in the IAB’s new guidelines.
An ad delivered: an ad that was delivered as determined by server logs that show either all bytes of the ad file were sent or the bytes representing the portion of the podcast file containing the ad file was downloaded. For example, if an ad was included within the first 25% of a podcast and at least 25% of the podcast file was downloaded, then the ad can be counted as delivered. When ads are dynamically inserted into the podcast file or within an ad break within the podcast, 100% of the ad content (all bytes) must be downloaded before it may be counted as delivered. These measurement guidelines do not support counting served ads without confirming that the ad was delivered.
Client-confirmed ad play: counts an ad that was able to prompt a tracking beacon from the client when the file was played. Whenever possible, metric should include information about how much of the ad was played using the markers: ad start, first quartile (25%), midpoint (50%), third quartile (75%), and complete (100%). While the client-confirmed ad-play metric represents the most accurate count for ad plays in a podcast, it requires client-side tracking. As discussed earlier, the platforms used to download, store, and play podcast files lack or prevent the technology needed for client-side counting. Aggregate reports on player market share among podcast publishers estimate that less than 3% of players are capable of providing client-side tracking data.