<![CDATA[Not Too Geeky » Audible’s service – trouble ahead for podcasters?: Tyme White has some great privacy questions about Wordcast and this observation about ad campaigns:
You know what is going to happen, right? Ad campaigns usually run monthly, sometimes quarterly. What if the listener does not listen to your podcast in the month the download it in? I have a ton of podcasts on my hard drive I have not listened to, but I have every intention of doing so. The podcasts that are not time-sensitive (for example interviews) can be listened to anytime and I save them for travel. There can be logical explanations for why there is a discrepancy between when a podcast is downloaded and when it is listened to but I seriously doubt the advertiser will care. This is why they want the information – so they can screw you over and get out of paying for ads that have not been heard.
On personal information: The Audible system doesn’t collect information about the user, it collects aggregate information about the programs played and only on files that require registration or carry audited advertising. So, the data sent back does not say “Mitch listened to time x to time y of program name,” it is “Program name was listened to from time x to time y.” That data is collected for each program without any identifying information, so there is no record of what you listened to. There is, of course, a list of what you’ve subscribed to or purchased used to maintain a personal library.
Targeting-to advertising will be based on the ability to survey listeners at registration. A podcaster could ask for individual information, like an age range or zip code or income, and use that to target ads, but it is at their option.
So, the answers to your questions are:
1.) Will Audible publicly state that they are tracking their users prior to the user downloading the podcast? They aren’t tracking individual user listening, so no.
3.) Will users be able to customize the phone home behavior (as in turn it off)? No, but remember that not all .aa files report home, only those that are secured or have audited advertising. My podcasts, which are available in .aa format, don’t report home.
4.) Will podcasters be able to download and analyze their statistics? Yes, on a program level that includes what parts of the show are listened to by the percentage of the audience, giving insight into what is or is not working. They don’t get information about what individuals listen to, because it isn’t collected.
5.) What happens if a podcasters podcast downloads greatly differ from the amount of times the ad is listened to? The data will be available to the podcaster and, if they choose to provide that data to the advertiser, to the advertiser, too. This also allows the podcaster to do several things that save money on their end. First, it prevents paying for multiple downloads of the same file by the same user (the cost of unlimited downloads is included in the fee, so users could come back and back and back without the fee increasing). Second, it lets podcasters weed out subscriber files so that if someone stops downloading they can be removed from the subscriber list (manually at first, but the aim is to do it automatically).
There is no system that “red flags” programs based on their ad performance. “Auditing” of listenership means that advertisers can ask for and learn about how much exposure ads actually get, then decide whether to continue advertising. That’s accountability in advertising. So, it’s up to the podcaster to make intelligent decisions about how to include ads so that listeners remain engaged throughout a program. I believe someone who packs their show with ads will alienate listeners.
6.) If the podcaster does not want to partner with Audible any longer will the files be removed from Audible’s servers? Audible would preserve the podcaster’s account for some period of time (I don’t know how long off hand), then delete the data. The data would not be used for any other purpose during that time.
7.) Will there be any restrictions placed on the podcaster – for example getting their own advertisements for show distributed by Audible? I don’t entirely understand your question. The podcaster can sell their own ads and upload them to the system for insertion and we are looking at providing ad inventory, but the how and where of that inventory hasn’t been settled yet.