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Does The Loss of Digital ID Impact Podcast Advertising?

Does The Loss of Digital ID Impact Podcast Advertising?

Written By

Bryan Barletta

Know the Author

September 8, 2020

The digital ad space is watching as the bottom falls out of their data collection methods. But how exactly does Apple’s Age of Privacy impact podcasting?

What’s Happening in Digital

Casey Newton wrote a fantastic article last week on Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes. Any app that wants your Identifier for Advertising (IDFA) will have to ask you for it. The prompt looks like this on the first launch of every single app:

I wouldn’t click that.

But “Ask App Not to Track” only references your IDFA. Like a cookie, it’s a match point for different data sources to link to. Data companies can buy information related to a user by knowing their name, phone number, address, cookie, IDFA, or IP address. All these values are Personally Identifiable Information (PII), which is the focus of privacy regulations like GDPR in the EU/EEA and CCPA in California.

Why Facebook is Throwing a Fit

Facebook’s Audience Network allows a publisher to improve how they identify users. They take part by installing code from Facebook into their app (SDK) or onto their site. This allows Facebook to collect the data and serve ads to the user for the publisher. Facebook can optimize campaigns by using all the information they know about users that they gather from their app/site, Instagram, and every publisher in their network.

Facebook uses this information to match who you are in a publisher’s app to your profile. From your profile it knows all the data that Facebook has gathered on your. Your IDFA is the link between Facebook and that small app. Like your name, email, phone number, address, and more are a link that Facebook can use to buy even more data from credit report agencies, credit card companies, and more.

IDFA accounts for such a large part of the Audience Network that in response to Apple’s change, “[…]Facebook is considering eliminating the service altogether for iOS 14 users.” With reports of up to 50% loss in revenue for the service, it might be dramatic but it’s definitely a valid response.

The Death of Third Party Tracking

Search “death of the cookie” and you’ll find dozens of articles. Most of them will focus on Google’s plan to end third-party cookies in Chrome by 2022. Other articles highlight that Apple and Firefox took a quicker approach and killed them completely in March 2020.

The impact of removing cookies had such a drastic impact that as of April 11th 2020, Facebook stated that their “[…]Audience Network will no longer fill any ad requests to web and in-stream placements.”. Clearly, a much easier limb to remove, as that change didn’t get the press the current issue has.

Before the privacy changes in iOS 14 go live, Facebook plans to no longer use IDFA in any capacity. While the idea of Facebook asking millions of users for approval to track them would make for a great news cycle, we’ve got other more important topics to cover.

Set to debut at the launch of iOS 14 this fall, Apple just last week decided to move the roll out date to early 2021. A moment of reprieve for Q4 advertising but a stressful way to start the new year.

Identity Solutions

An alternative to the third party cookie and IDFA that hasn’t picked up the steam it’s needed is Identity.

Apps and sites, regardless of size, get other information from visitors. Their IP address, device user agent, and they might even log in to them. The focus behind Identity is for publishers to share their own first party data and send it to a provider, where it’s combined with other publishers second party data before being augmented by third party data. You can see how having IDFA and cookie in that mix makes the connections strong, but they’re not critical.

Breaking down the data sources for a minute:

  • First Party – The publisher that collected the data.
  • Second Party – Other, similar publishers, collecting data.
  • Third Party – Branded or anonymized sources, matched to data points from the first two.

Each publisher will still have a local ID or first party cookie for their interactions with a user. This allows the Identity partner to weave them all together, while adding in more insight.

The absolute most exciting part of this entire Identity solution for privacy buffs? It requires user participation. It’s not trivial for companies to be CCPA and GDPR compliant. Companies that operate in and out of those territories most often default to universal compliance. Cookie consent pop ups and terms of service might not be the best answer, but the user now has the disclosure laid out right in front of them.

Companies like Liveramp are ahead of the curve, having launched their Authenticated Traffic Solution in August 2020. While definitely marketing speak heavy, their focus on building a trusted ecosystem is worth looking through.

On the other side of the coin, you’ve got more legacy providers like Nielsen. In July 2020, they announced that they’d enter phase 1 of their new initiative by “early 2021”. While their plan was laid out only a month after the iOS 14 reveal, it comes four months after Apple and Firefox removed third party cookies from their browsers. I’m sure they’re thankful for the delay from Apple, but starting phase 1 at the same time IDFA is phased out is risky. Companies that are taking action today, preparing their clients for the change, are the ones that will come out on top.

Sharing IDs from the Identity provider is also far less risky. The value of the ID is meaningless outside of their specific platform. The Identity provider sits at the middle, enabling targeting through any platform plugged in.

You’ve got to ask why Facebook is not getting into this space.

If you want to read more about it, I highly recommend The Identity Connection Playbook by AdMonsters. I’s a quick and approachable breakdown of what identity is.

Applying it To Podcasting

No doom and gloom to report here.

We’ve already faced such an uphill battle for more data in podcast advertising. The best thing that’s coming out of this change is that digital will look more like podcasting.

But let’s break down why we’re not expecting a major impact.

Podcast hosting platforms only ever receive IP address and device user agent from the podcast player. So this will not have any native impact on the hosting platforms. Geotargeting is not impacted by this change, nor is the ability to category or show target.

It’s also not going to be disruptive to Spotify. Like Facebook, they capture user login data along and all their actions/habits within the app. They’re ahead of the Identity curve. It will be interesting to see if they partner with an Identity partner for more insights.

I don’t want to completely downplay this hurdle. iOS 14 will release this fall, with the privacy update launching in early 2021. The holiday season is already rough on IDFA’s. Adoption rate on new iOS versions is very quick, and the new OS version coincides with the release of a new phone. A new phone means new IDFA’s. With such a short time to associate that data to a household before the privacy feature is enabled, it’s like recovering from two data resets back to back.

Any podcast platform offering the ability to demographic or segment target is going to feel the effects of this change, based on the partners they pick. Even with Liveramp’s early initiative, there’s still going to be a dip in the ability to match data. But starting in August vs Nielsen’s approach in early 2021, is a good reason to not have a single partner solution.

On one hand, we dodged a bullet with accommodating this change in Q4. On the other, we’ve now made Q4 more complicated by having to consider a/b testing the different methods and prepping for Q1/Q2 2021.

Time to take a deep breath this month and start Q4 with a plan.


The goal of Sounds Profitable is to educate and empower each of you. If we’ve had a chance to talk directly, you know that I am truly passionate about both adtech and podcasting. We learn through asking tough questions and discussing the answers. Armed with today’s new knowledge, I want to help you ask more questions. Please consider supporting Sounds Profitable through our Patreon.

  • What is your podcast ad servers strategy for providing segment targeting?
    • What vendor do they use?
    • What is the vendor’s strategy for overcoming the changes with cookies and IDFA’s?
    • What is their Identity solution?
    • Can they provide match rate numbers from before Safari removed third party cookies?
    • Can they provide match rate numbers from after Safari removed third party cookies, but before iOS 14 beta launched?
    • When does segment data expire? 30/60/90 days after update?
    • Do they plan to extend their expiration around iOS 14 launch, to maintain match rates for households?
About the author

Bryan Barletta (He/Him) is the founder of Sounds Profitable, and a widely-cited expert in adtech, sales, and monetization of podcasting. He founded Sounds Profitable in 2020 after a successful career working with some of the leading companies in advertising technology, including AdTheorent, Claritas, and Megaphone. Barletta helped to design some of the tools in use by podcast platforms today for attribution, measurement, and serving audio ads, and uses that expertise to help clients and sponsors get the most from their sales and advertising efforts. He founded Sounds Profitable initially as a platform to help educate persons working in the podcast industry about advertising and sales technology, but has since expanded the brand to become the industry’s premiere source for education, advocacy, and insights designed to grow the entire space. He is an avid gamer and father of two boys, neither of whom have their own podcast, yet.