IAB

It’s been a year since the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released the 2.0 version of its Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines and that anniversary is being marked with the first companies to fully deploy the new standards. Blubrry and NPR become the first podcast-hosting service providers to have their podcast stats certified by the IAB Tech Lab for complying with the guidelines after months of auditing by the IAB.

“The audit included reviews of our platform architecture, filtering, file threshold levels, identity, aggregate uniques, metrics generation, website player reviews and recommendations, disclosures and external audit of the code, line by line,” Blubrry CIO Angelo Mandato explained.

In securing the approval, the “IAB Certified” label will now be carried on Blubrry and NPR statistics. “This is the gold standard. There is no substitution to certification of compliance,” Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane said. “Ad buyers, networks, podcast hosting platforms, and podcasters now have an audited, validated, certified platform ready to serve them.” Beyond the new label Blubrry says podcasters using its platform shouldn’t see much change in their listening metrics compared to the previous guidelines that had been in place since 2013.

To win IAB certification Blubrry said it made updates to its system such as how it processes data for media companies it hosts. For non-hosting customers it was required to put in place code that will audit podcaster websites for activities like pre-loading. That occurs when a web-based audio player automatically starts loading the media upon page load. The process led Blubrry to release a list of guidelines it believes all podcasters should follow to get the most accurate podcast statistics.

This has been a year that sparked interest in podcasting among many new advertisers. For that trend to continue the IAB says the industry must take steps to ensure its measurement meets the new set of standards. “According to the latest IAB/PwC study, podcast advertising is estimated to hit revenues of $402 million this year alone, and the marketplace is growing very rapidly, despite measurement hurdles," IAB Tech Lab senior VP/general manager Dennis Buchheim said. "To continue this growth, measurement practices need to become consistent, accurate, and meaningful. The Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines and Compliance Program help get us closer to this goal.” That’s why Buchheim is giving a back slap to NPR and Blubrry for becoming the first two companies to complete the certification process. Several other companies are also working their way through certification.

The latest standards were released last December after months of work by 32 podcast companies. The goal was to address a lack of uniformity in measurement systems and metrics by creating strict rules as the basis of certification, including downloads, listens, advertising delivery and play, and an agreed-upon set of metrics and their meanings. “The IAB guidelines ensure this entire skyrocketing industry speaks a common language,” said Steve Mulder, NPR’s senior director of audience insights. He said NPR is already looking beyond the newly-certified download-based metrics as it moves into listening-based metrics through its Remote Audio Data spec. For now though, Mulder said what has been achieved is a positive for all podcasters. “This certification is a key step for us and for the industry,” he said.