March 18, 2021

4 Ways Hosting Providers Affect Podcast Ad Campaigns

4 Ways Hosting Providers Affect Podcast Ad Campaigns

In this episode, I will talk to you about how podcast hosting providers stack up, why it's important for you as an advertiser to understand them, and how their differences affect your ad campaign.  ____ RESOURCE I have an episode about podcast...

In this episode, I will talk to you about how podcast hosting providers stack up, why it's important for you as an advertiser to understand them, and how their differences affect your ad campaign. 



I have an episode about podcast attribution that will help diver deeper into the benefits and limitations of attribution currently within podcasting: Podsights: The Growth And Future Of Podcast Attribution.



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This transcript has not been edited.


[00:00:29]Heather Osgood: [00:00:29] Hello, and welcome to the show. I'm your host, Heather Osgood. And today, on the program, I'm going to be talking to you about how to podcast hosting providers stack up and why it's important for you as an advertiser to understand them and their differences. Now at True Native Media, we have a unique perspective on hosting providers because we are hosting provider agnostic. What that means is that we do not require the podcasts that we represent to switch hosting providers in order to [00:01:00] be represented by our company. While at many other companies, if not most, when podcasts go to that company for representation, they are required to switch hosting providers so that everyone is on the same platform.

[00:01:14] And truthfully, in terms of ease of use, if all of our shows were on the same hosting platform, it would be very helpful and make our jobs much easier. However, because we are advocates for the independent podcaster, we haven't felt that it has been necessary to essentially force our shows to switch hosting providers.

[00:01:33]What this has provided for us is a unique perspective on all of the hosting providers that are out there, because we in essence, have been able to pull back the curtain and really look at all of the different back ends of the hosting providers that we work with and compare them. See how they work. See which one works better and really gives our advertisers the opportunity to access podcast ads in a variety of [00:02:00] different ways.

[00:02:01] Now, before we get too deep into the conversation, I do want to just establish what exactly a hosting provider is. I have found over the years because the word host can be a little confusing, people can get tripped upon it. Obviously, I am the host of this podcast that you're listening to right now, but I have to have a hosting provider in order to have a podcast. And a hosting provider is the company that houses the audio file of a podcast.

[00:02:30] Similarly to a website hosting provider, you cannot start a website without a website hosting provider. You can not have a true podcast without a podcast hosting provider or someone to house that audio file and then distribute it out to the different, you know, sources where that podcast is going to be played.

[00:02:50] So I want to establish here at the beginning of the conversation that for the remainder of the conversation today, I will be referring to a podcast host like [00:03:00] myself as a publisher. And I'll be referring to a podcast hosting provider as that company that is the technology company behind a podcast. Just so it's not super confusing.

[00:03:12] Why is it important for you, the advertiser, to understand the hosting providers that the podcasts you're advertising with are using. The first is IAB compliance. Now the IAB or the interactive advertising Bureau came up with standards for measurement of listenership several years ago. They came out with version 2.0 at the end of 2017.

[00:03:38] So IB 2.0 has been out for quite a while. But 2.1 is currently in consideration. They were asking for feedback by the middle of February of 2021. So, I am sure that version 2.1 will be coming out here at some point. Now the IAB established rules for how to measure listenership and audience [00:04:00] size, and it really has had a substantial impact on the industry and will, I think, continue to play that role at least for a while.

[00:04:08] So it's very important that, as an advertiser, you know the hosting providers hosting the shows of the podcast that you sponsor are IAB compliant very important. And we'll see what that has to deliver for us when that 2.1 version comes out.

[00:04:27] Next, it's important for you as the advertiser to understand how your ads are going to be run.

[00:04:33] Are they going to be run as embedded ad reads where that's an ad that has been read in the native audio file of that podcast and published in its entirety. Or are you going to be doing dynamic ad insertion? There are some hosting providers that allow for dynamic ad insertion, and there are some hosting providers that don't.

[00:04:54] There are some podcasts that are set up to do it, and some podcasts that are [00:05:00] not. And this is really a two-way conversation. So let's take, for instance, a podcast. It could be with Libsyn, one of the hosting providers out there, and they could be on the basic Libsyn program, which would not allow them to do dynamic ad insertion, or they could be on the pro version, which would allow them to do dynamic ad insertion. So there are different variations, and depending on what the publisher has chosen, they may or may not be doing the dynamic insertion. So it's really important to understand if they are because that's definitely going to change the way that your ad is being delivered. 

[00:05:37] Next, you want to understand, especially if the show is doing dynamic insertion, how those downloads and impressions are being measured. There are a variety of different measurement tools we have found. So, while the IAB has established how to measure downloads, each hosting provider on their own essentially has [00:06:00] decided exactly how they're going to decide if an ad impression was delivered. 

[00:06:04] I'll give you an example. Megaphone, one of the companies that we work with, also a company that was recently purchased by Spotify, measures an impression if the listener has listened to the point in that podcast episode where the ad is being played. For instance, if I have an ad that is running at minute 20, let's say. I'm listening to the show. I get to minute 15, and I turn the podcast off, or I stopped listening; I will not be counted as an impression or a download for that campaign because the hosting provider knows that I have not listened to the point in the podcast where that message is being delivered.

[00:06:46] You can also listen to point twenty-five right. Like maybe I'm going to listen to minute 25, and then I will be counted as an impression. It does get a little tricky, though, because the software isn't advanced enough to know [00:07:00] whether I actually listened to the ad or if I fast forward through the ad, but it can tell me that I listened to the point in the podcast where that ad appeared.

[00:07:09] So that I think is a really valid way of counting impressions. There are other hosting providers out there that count impressions if a listener has listened to 60 seconds of the podcast, and then there are still others that count an impression even less than that.

[00:07:25]So all of these are very different when it comes to how an impression is delivered. And so that's why it's important for you as an advertiser to be aware of how this information is created and what you should essentially pay attention to within your campaign. 

[00:07:42] Next, it's important for you to look at whether or not the hosting provider that you're going to be working with allows for a tracking pixel.

[00:07:53] Now, in the last couple of years, we have had several attribution tracking companies that have come on the scene and the [00:08:00] podcast space where we are able to identify essentially who has listened to a podcast. And then, through the use of a tracking pixel, we can see who has come to your site to make a purchasing decision.

[00:08:14] Now, there is a lot of talk about privacy, and privacy is always super important. We did an interview with Podisights, a company that we at True Native Media partner with, to do attribution tracking. And if you're interested in going back and checking out that episode, I would highly recommend it. It'll give you more information about attribution tracking and its value.

[00:08:36] But there are a lot of conversations about privacy around attribution tracking and whether or not it falls under guidelines of GDPR and other, you know, CCPA other, essentially privacy guidelines that are being established within. The overall internet space. So there are some hosting providers [00:09:00] who are not interested in essentially allowing for attribution tracking.

[00:09:05] I have seen that attribution tracking and pixel tracking have increased in popularity by a landslide in the last six months. There are lots of advertisers who are asking to use pixel tracking, which I think they should, in my personal opinion. And if you are advertising with a podcast that does not allow for pixel tracking, that is going to put you at a disadvantage because you're not going to have all of the information that you might need. 

[00:09:35] Now, to complicate matters more, there are some hosting providers out there who allow for pixel tracking with embedded ad reads, but they don't allow for pixel tracking with dynamically inserted ads. Every hosting provider is just slightly different, so it can be fairly complicated. And I believe that all of this stems from the fact that the podcast industry is [00:10:00] still really getting our footing under us. And as an industry, we're really deciding what is the demand is out there and what do we need to create? So you have to be careful when you're looking at hosting providers if you're interested in doing pixel tracking because not all of them provide that. 

[00:10:17] The other thing to consider is the demographic information that different hosting providers give to the publisher. There is a variety of different demographics that are provided. And I wish that we could say that it was standard across the board, but it's not. So that is something that can impact your ability to really see into who is listening to the podcasts. So demographic information is important too. 

[00:10:45] Now, a good publisher will have done surveys, and we'll have gotten demographic information in a variety of different ways, not just through their hosting provider. But hosting providers can have a very significant role in that [00:11:00] information as well. 

[00:11:01] So, just in recapping, I want to make sure that you, the advertiser, know if the hosting providers that your publishers are using are IAB 2.0 compliant.

[00:11:11] You want to be clear if they are doing dynamic insertion, and if they are doing dynamic insertion, how those impressions are being tracked. And at what point an impression is delivered.

[00:11:22] Next, you want to make sure that the hosting provider that you're using allows for pixel tracking. If that's something, you're interested in using.

[00:11:30] And finally, make sure that you understand the demographics that a hosting provider will give you in your campaign. 

[00:11:36] I hope that this information has been helpful in navigating yours—your journey through creating successful ad campaigns. There is a lot I see on the horizon for hosting providers and how they are going to impact really the foundation of the ad space in podcasting. So I hope this information again has been helpful.

[00:11:57] And if you were interested, In discussing it [00:12:00] further, please feel free to reach out to me. You can reach me on LinkedIn, where I am frequently. Um, at Heather Osgood over there on LinkedIn. You can also message us through our website at Thank you so much for listening to the program today, and I look forward to talking with you again in the future. Take care. Yeah.