iHeartRadio Hooks Up With Art19 To Bring Better Measurement To Podcasting

art19The rapidly growing podcast industry is struggling with a dearth of listenership data.

To help shed light on how listeners engage with podcast ads, iHeartRadio is joining forces with Art19, a platform that partners with publishers to host their podcasts and measure ad performance via API integration. Art19 will now syndicate its hosted podcasts on iHeartRadio, the companies announced on Wednesday.

Art19 launched in August with content from Midroll Media, Wondery and DGital media. The platform helps publishers measure whether a listener heard, stopped or skipped an ad during podcasts. That’s big news for the podcasting world, which has been unable to measure beyond downloads due to the limitations of RSS distribution.

“The big challenge right now is [measuring] when the user starts, stops or skips an ad,” said Art19 CEO Sean Carr. “It’s up to the client to report that back, so in this case, iHeart is going to feed that back using our API. There’s no mechanism to do that in basic RSS distribution.”

Through the partnership, Art19 will expand its audience and ability to measure ad performance for its hosted podcasts to iHeartRadio’s 95 million registered users. Carr hopes that scale and data trove will make agencies more interested in buying podcasts.

“Agencies are getting their feet wet and doing some very interesting branded buys, but I would not say that [podcasts have] become a staple buy in the agency world,” Carr said. “That’s largely because of the lack of data. Based on conversations we’ve had with many of the top agencies, once we can furnish this data, [podcasts] will become a regular buy.”

Podcasting has largely been dominated by direct-response advertisers, but Carr is betting that better data will get more brand advertisers interested in the medium.

“It’s really going to unlock those agency dollars, which will in turn help monetization of the medium catch up to its scale,” Carr said.

Through its dynamic ad insertion capabilities, Art19 will combine demographic data from iHeartRadio with geo and device data to better target ads on its platform and control their frequency. Art19 hopes to eventually leverage more granular listener data from iHeartRadio, but that won’t be a focus until programmatic gains traction in the podcast space.

“It’s about impression data,” Carr said. “Agencies can now start selling impressions, not just downloads.”

Although podcasting is taking  baby steps toward programmatic – digital audio platform AdsWizz launched the first programmatic podcast exchange in July – most publishers continue to see high CPMs and response rates with organic host-read sponsorships.

“Programmatic will absolutely have a home in podcasting at some point, but today we have almost no customers running that sort of advertising,” Carr said. “It’s all high-touch, white-glove, host-read to a specific audience. At some point, it will have value in specific verticals where there are editorial questions [around endorsements].”

For iHeartRadio, access to Art19’s content and measurement capabilities will propel a major push into podcasting this year, said Chris Peterson, SVP of podcasting for iHeartRadio.

“I want the best content on our platform so we can start moving over our listeners to podcasts and grow the industry,” he said. “We can really expand the audience of these podcasts.”

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