Podcast Pingback

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It's been a while since we last provided an update on Podcast Pingback and whilst on the surface it may appear that little was happening, we've been actively engaging with potential supporters and implementers across the industry to gather feedback on the initial specification.

We're incredibly grateful for the support received from our supporters and those who have actively engaged with the project via email and phone.

There are three key issues the project faces:

The first point refers to a lack of responses from many developers and those who we have spoken to (mostly off-the-record) have informed us of concerns over implementing any form of tracking, both from a user privacy point of view (an issue this project was conscious to address in the original standard) and also over concerns their peers respond negatively to tracking.

Similarly there have been concerns expressed by vocal members of the publishing community on the same theme that any form of tracking will have a negative impact on the current business models and obtainable CPM. Essentially the theory that a move towards increased accuracy brings with it diminished returns. We're keen to not wade in to the ethics of this particular argument, but simply note that without publisher and developer support it's hard for us as a project to move forward, and we don't believe Podcast Pingback is alone in this difficulty.

On the second point, the major players are all actively seeking increased share for their platforms and, with it, seeking programming exclusivity and agreements with publishers. One of the ways they are achieving this is by promising enhanced listener statistics, but specific to their own platforms only. This is obviously at odds with an open standard for gathering this data across any client and so clear to see why an operator of a platform such as this would be unlikely to engage with our project.

Finally on the third point, Podcast Pingback lacks the prominence, profile and roster of engaged parties that NPR can attract. We're keen to not paint this as a point to illicit pity, we are simply being realistic about the limitations of our position and where we can move next.

With all these points in mind, we are ending the current phase of Podcast Pingback. Aiir will cease sponsoring the project and no active community engagement or standards development will continue at this time, but the current standard will remain available should others wish to pick it up or work with it at a later date.

We would also encourage anyone still interested in the activity of the project to actively engage with NPR's RAD project if they have not already done so. Although we have highlighted some key differences we would like to see addressed in their standard, we feel like NPR has the right scope and active participants to have the best chance of achieving the common goal of more detailed listener analytics in podcasting in the future.

The project team for Podcast Pingback are still incredibly proud of what we achieved and still believe our approach offered a light, simple to implement way of diving in to a deeper level of metrics for podcast listening, but the required key stakeholders of our industry don't seem to be in the same headspace as those who have pledged support at this time. We hope to see further developments from NPR and others in the near future.

14th February 2020