Open Downloads

August 05, 2019

The short of the following is that we have open-sourced how we, at Podsights, count downloads. It’s a spec if you will, based on industry standards, that is meant to level the playing field for podcasters and publishers alike. Rather than closed and proprietary, it’s open and transparent. You can view it here.

Intro

We want to stop talking about downloads. How do you count, what blacklist do you use, how do you compare to ____ and do you think ____ is inflating their numbers?

We want to start talking about results. Podcast advertising is incredibly effective and drives significant ROI, but we are stuck talking about downloads instead. If your show is half the size of another, but producing twice the results, you should be paid accordingly.

We have a proposal. How about we all count the same way openly and transparently?

To that end, Podsights has decided to open source a spec for how we count downloads and share our blacklists with the podcast community as a whole.

Isn’t this just IAB v2.0

No, similar goals, but different tactics.

The IAB v2.0 spec is great. It’s four years in the making, and no one is taking anything away from the work that was done. The window in the oDL spec is largely based around IAB v2.0.

IAB v2.0 didn’t go far enough as it relies on wording around “Best Practices.” We believe that a spec shouldn’t have best practices. Two hosting providers, both who are IAB v2.0 certified, could have up to a 10% difference in download counts. The mismatch creates confusion for publishers, podcasters and advertisers alike as who’s number is “correct.”

IAB v2.0 is also expensive. It’s up to $45k for a hosting provider to become certified. Competition is essential, and this hurdle creates an undue burden on smaller companies.

Lastly, it effectively abolishes podcasters from independently hosting their podcast and selling ads. $45k is more than most podcasters make in a year.

Transparency and consistency.

We believe to effectively end this discussion about downloads the solution needs to be freely available for anyone to use. Do we think this codebase is perfect, no, but that’s not the point. The point is that anyone, from smaller podcaster to large hosting company can propose a fix, add an IP to the blacklist and we all move forward together.

Who owns oDL.

We want the community to own it. While we took the first step, oDL doesn’t work without others getting involved. You hate it, great, propose a fix to make it better. It doesn’t include an IP on your blacklist, great, add it to the communities list. You love it, great, use it.

We want to work with you to make it better. To move this industry forward, we need to get past downloads. We hope you move it forward with us.

Here’s the code.

Onward.