NPR unveiled a new open source podcast measurement project Wednesday that aims to bring more transparency and granularity to podcast metrics. The project, dubbed Remote Audio Data (RAD), has been developed in partnership with a number of podcast app developers, ad tech companies as well as tech and media heavyweights including ESPN, Google and iHeartMedia.
At its core, RAD allows podcast publishers to tag individual moments in their podcasts — think ad breaks, mentions of sponsors, individual segments and more. Podcast apps that support RAD will keep track of listeners reaching those moments, and send relevant data back to publishers.
NPR podcasts product manager Stacey Goers noted in a blog post Wednesday that the podcasting industry had long focused on downloads as the primary engagement metric. “The download is only part of the story,” she said, elaborating that some in the industry had begun to implement more granular metrics in recent years.
But without a common standard, those metrics still required a lot of manual analysis. “Once adopted throughout the industry, RAD will consolidate that data for publishers and begin to move our industry toward new metrics around listening,” Goers said.
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RAD has already been implemented in NPR’s own NPR One Android app, and podcast analytics provider Podtrack is starting to offer support as part of a beta program. In addition, NPR has gotten commitments from Acast, AdsWizz, ART19, Awesound, Blubrry Podcasting, Panoply, Omny Studio, PRI/PRX, RadioPublic, Triton Digital, WideOrbit and Whooshkaa to implement support for RAD.
The development of the standard was supported by Cadence13, Edison Research, ESPN, Google, iHeartMedia, Libsyn, The New York Times, New York Public Radio, Voxnest and Wondery. Notably absent from the list is Apple, which has long been one of the biggest players in the podcasting space.