Nielsen has voiced its intent to add a measurement system for on-demand audio and podcasts as part of its Digital Audio Ratings service. In this announcement, the ratings company promises to engage with one of the most vexing issues of the podcast industry — representing standard audience metrics to advertisers.
As with Nielsen’s method of measuring webcast streams, the podcast technology will reside at the consumer touch-point — the player used by the listener to hear a show. Details are scarce as of now, but Nielsen VP Rob Kass told RAIN News that the podcast approach will be similar to the streaming audio method, and the company will work with many clients and vendors to get a comprehensive view of podcast audience metrics and analytics.
This method is commonly known as SDK-based (SDK stands for Software Development Kit) and enables software players to incorporate Nielsen’s measurement code into their products. This client-based method differs from server-side measurement, which tracks user’s behavior at the source of the audio, rather than at the end of the audio path. Industry stakeholders tend to advocate for one system or the other, as each method can make an efficacy argument.
Regardless of method, Nielsen and its competitors strive to produce “total audience” measurement for the benefit of advertisers, who, generally speaking, don’t care about delivery platforms as much as audio in all its forms. Video has the same issue, as television watching has splintered to several online-delivered interfaces. The race to total audience audio measurement ends in a prize for tech companies which provide all kinds of industry ratings and buying software, and can benefit audio publishers also — though on that last point there is disagreement on how it should be accomplished, how it is represented, and who should be included.
Nielsen Digital Audio Ratings was officially announced in March 2016.