“There’s a Metric for That”: Maturation of Digital Audio Measurement Powers Podcasting’s Mainstream Moment

IAB 2020 Audio Unleashed

When Apple rolled out its iconic “There’s an App for That” ad campaign in 2009, the value proposition to potential iPhone buyers was spectacularly clear and easy to grasp.  Grab your phone, tap an icon, and instantly find, learn, or do just about anything you want.  Sufficiently impressed by the promise of such power and convenience, consumers immediately embraced Apple’s message, and the rest is world’s most valuable company history, vaulting app purchase and usage into the mainstream.

Thirteen years later, the digital audio industry is making some history of its own, with this year’s IAB/PwC Podcast Ad Revenue report showing tremendous growth within the industry’s fastest rising segment, propelling purchase and usage of podcast advertising into the mainstream.  And among the many things powering that growth is a maturing content and ad measurement landscape that presents digital audio ad buyers a clear and easy to grasp value proposition.

Such is the conclusion of the IAB Media Center’s “Digital Audio Measurement Guide,” available now on IAB.com  Leveraging this document, it becomes possible to imagine a new ad campaign modeled on “There’s an App for That” in which digital audio and podcasting play the role of Apple and in which a similar catchphrase is born.  “There’s a Metric for That”, we might call it, and emphasizing buyers’ ability to do just about anything they want – and to measure almost any mainstream KPI they like – would be the heart of the campaign.

To understand why we might want to create such an ad campaign, it’s important to know that even as digital audio grows by leaps and bounds (up more than any other category of digital media YOY at 58% per this year’s Internet Advertising Revenue report), there is still a significant gap between what can be measured in digital audio today versus the level of awareness that buyers have regarding the measurement specifics, especially in the podcast space.  Seeking to bridge this gap was the overarching goal of the Measurement Guide, and an app store-like capacity to do whatever a digital audio or podcast advertiser might want to do is one of its underlying themes.

Do you need to know, for example, how many unique listeners downloaded a podcast episode or show over a specific period of time?  No problem.  There’s an IAB certified metric for that.

Or would you like to track how much of a podcast ad was played by quartile using a client-based tracking beacon?  No problem there either, as there’s an IAB certified metric for that too.

And did you also know that you can call on IAB certified digital audio measurement companies to provide you with solutions to virtually any insights, branding, or attribution need you may have?  Once again, yes you can.  There are digital audio metrics and measurement solutions for everything from tracking conversions across multiple devices via the use of audio attribution pixels to brand suitability controls that allow advertisers to precisely target content that aligns with their goals and values.

All of this and more is waiting for you in the Digital Audio Measurement Guide and, as the document makes clear, its menu of digital audio measurement capabilities points to an impressive maturation of the entire digital audio space.  This is especially true of Podcasting as it enters the mainstream and of its surging importance to brands of all shapes, sizes, and marketing needs.  As the aforementioned Podcast Ad Revenue Report reveals, podcast industry revenue grew by 71% in 2021– surpassing the $1 Billion dollar mark for the first time and landing at nearly $1.5 Billion.  And with rapidly rising investments funded by mergers and acquisitions among the industry’s largest players, questions of how to monetize those investments and continue giving buyers the kind of measurement and targeting solutions they need to support further growth have taken up center stage.

To help answer these questions, the IAB has many upcoming activities and initiatives that will focus on reducing friction in the marketplace and on enabling even greater capacity to execute and measure the effectiveness of digital audio advertising campaigns.

In the near term, we hope you will join us starting today, May 10th, through 12th at this year’s Podcast Upfronts where we will not only evangelize the power of podcasts to reach consumers but also release and share the details of the 2022 Podcast Ad Revenue Report.  After that, we’ll be hard at work authoring a Podcasting Buyers-Sellers checklist to make podcast ad campaigns easier to transact as well as working with IAB Tech Lab to help drive business requirements for advanced brand safety/suitability solutions based on transcription metadata.  And before the year is out, we’ll also release an Audio Industry Landscape publication to continue the work of the Measurement Guide and deliver even more detail on trends, capabilities, and future needs of the industry.

To stay abreast of these and many other initiatives under way at the IAB, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Eric John ([email protected]) or Matt Shapo ([email protected]) in the IAB Media Center.  In the meantime, we hope that you will find the Digital Audio Measurement Guide to be useful.  And if you find yourself with a marketing KPI you’re not sure you can measure with a digital audio ad campaign, don’t forget.  There’s a metric for that.


Matt Shapo
at IAB Media Center