We noted the challenges related to standardisation of podcasts last year, especially as the medium is fundamentally decentralised. More mainstream efforts have been in the works over the last couple of years, with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) building a podcast measurement standard through their technical group comprising 64 member companies. Version 2.1 of the standard was up for public comment until 31 December 2020, so this should evolve over the course of the coming year.

Podcast companies Spreaker, Empire Streaming, Chartable, OmnyStudio, Megaphone, Captivate, PodBean, Buzzsprout and Anchor achieved compliance during 2020, taking compliance with the 2.0 version of the standard to 20 companies.

We noted last year that Chartable was working to bridge some of the gaps due to decentralization by working to unify podcast listener data across platforms. The company achieved compliance with the IAB 2.0 standard for podcast measurement during 2020. This would mean that even if a podcaster’s hosting service has not chosen to, or not-yet achieved compliance, they would still have IAB certified stats using Chartable’s tracking service.

We also noted last year that alternative mechanisms were also in the works, such as that of the Open Podcast Analytics Working Group, which continued to provide updates to their list of podcast user-agents in 2020 for more standard and consistent identification by podcast hosting platforms.

Efforts such as these are a good case-study of platforms, publishers and even creators working together for best-practices and standardisation for the industry, as standardisation needs to be attainable by everyone—whether they are part of larger entities or independent.

“I’m not that excited about standardisation projects that are merely revenue generation tools, or those that exist to deliberately freeze some parts of the industry out,” notes James Cridland, Editor of Podnews. “Those are part of the radio industry, but I hope don't become long-term parts of the podcasting industry. In particular, as a global industry, we need global representation when setting standards, not a US colonialism foisted on the rest of the world."

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