Audible has rolled out the first components of a platform it says will eventually enable tracking of ad impressions within podcasts -- all but unmeasurable in their current form.
The new beta product, called AudibleWordcast, offers audio producers a fairly modest set of tools for inserting ads into podcasts and auditing their audiences for ad sales purposes. However, the platform's next iteration, anticipated in Q1 2006, promises to deliver detailed ad tracking.
That will come as a surprise to many who have assumed podcasting is a fundamentally untraceable medium. Audible says that by creating podcasts in its .AA format, audio producers will not only measure how much of a file has been played on a device, but also what ads were heard. That promise includes tracking in the iTunes environment -- not just in Audible's own audio management software.
"This is something that can actually make podcasting a viable and scalable business," said David Joseph, VP of communications and strategy for Audible. "Once you have the ability to test and measure who's listening to what and how much, you're able to build a rate card, and that should be a driver of revenue."
The detailed ad measurement features are still on the horizon. For the time being, the platform offers audience audits, ad management and secured transactions.
The audience measurement technology, TrueListener, reports on the number of unique listeners to a podcast. Those numbers will be verified through a partnership with third-party media auditor Interactive Media Services.
The ad management piece uses proprietary file assembly technology for easy rotation and insertion of ads.
Wordcast's cost to podcasters is $.05 per download and $.01 per ad inserted into an individual podcast, which comes out to a total CPM of $5. Audible has set up no minimum requirements for podcast producers who wish to implement the product. It expects large media companies and independent producers alike to use it.
On a promotional Web site, Audible calls on podcasters to "Spend your time, money and energy doing what you do best –- making and marketing audio content," and leave the ad operations to it.
Podcast creators that implement the Audible infrastructure still need to take care of their own ad sales. While Audible does not currently offer media representation to podcasters, Joseph said it's something the company will consider.
"The big media guys, they don't necessarily need it. They've got it themselves," he said. "With the smaller guys, we're kind of exploring that right now."
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March 19, 2014