Ratings company Nielson to start collecting podcasting data, as the medium is more popular than legacy media

Podcasts are becoming more popular than most radio stations and even prime-time TV shows.


It will take a lot of user data to fully monetize podcasting in what many will undoubtedly see as the wrong way.

Currently, podcasters make money by reading out ads, offering subscription models, and accepting donations – and all this leaves out insight into lucrative but controversial things like broader and deeper insight into the habits and personalities of their users.

The medium has been one of the last hold-outs in making ad money without collecting and selling the personal data of their users. In part, this was the case because it was difficult to get to that data.

But times may be changing as podcasting is gaining in popularity and is attracting major global players like Spotify.

One of those showing great interest in the podcasting game is Nielsen Scarborough, a US market research firm measuring lifestyle and shopping trends among adults. It is now selling a tool that will correlate people' shopping habits with the genre of podcasts they like to listen to.

Nielsen is solving the “problem” of collecting podcast listeners' personal data by “polling random Americans about podcasts and then give its clients the opportunity to list their shows among those that people say they consume,” they announced.

Among the clients who wish to know their audience's interests in more detail so they could sell them targeted ads are some big players, the report said, including iHeartPodcast Network, Cadence13, Midroll, Westwood One, and Cabana.

However, as the website observed, this is still not “direct” information on users such as tech giants like Google and Facebook can rely on in their collection and sale of personal data for ad dollars – in the words of the Verge, “the podcast industry is woefully lacking data.”

Spotify has so far been the most “advanced” in this regard, thanks to its primary business, music streaming, that gives it a vast amount of personal user data, down to their age, gender, location, and even mood.

And Spotify will play ads targeted at podcast users, not in the podcast shows themselves – instead of placing them “in between songs,” the report revealed.

The nature of podcasting as a medium has so far shielded its users from privacy intrusion – as what's normally exposed is location in terms of IP addresses, and the service and device they use to download shows.


Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]
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