A Step Toward Podcast Measurement

A little while back, our Kevin Newcomb chronicled advertisers’ thoughts on the difficulty of measuring that much-talked-about format, the podcast. Today, Arbitron says its Portable People Meter — which is eventually supposed to track just about everything — has successfully tracked podcasts.

To perform the test, Arbitron downloaded several podcasts (from a station owned by Clear Channel, which has been experimenting with podcasting) from the Apple iTunes Music Store. They were then transferred to an MP3 player and played on a headset. The Portable People Meter — using its headset adapter — detected the unique digital codes embedded in the podcast file.

Says Pierre Bouvard, president of Portable People Meters at Arbitron: “The state-of-the-art encoding system used in the PPM does a better job of identifying alternate distribution platforms and time-shifted audio content than any other approach to portable electronic audience measurement that we’ve seen.”

Interesting stuff. Still a lot of challenges — like getting people to use those headset adapters and gaining the confidence of the industry — but the announcement certainly shows that the idea of podcasts, at least, is gaining serious momentum.

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