Understanding Podcast Ad Metrics Impressions & Downloads

#AudioInsights       #Audio ads       #Marketing Strategy

Suzi Kuban

Suzi Kuban

podcast ad metrics

They key to successfully using podcast ads to drive results is understanding podcast ad metrics. The most important being impressions and downloads.


Let’s learn the basics !



When it comes to understanding the podcast metric, you first need to know how your ad is inserted.

Episode download requests go through an ad server which determines the best ad to serve based on targeting. If your ad is selected it’s inserted into the audio file, while it is being progressively downloaded, at the designated ad break spot.

Therefore the question is – if ads are served when a download starts, then it makes sense that downloads is an important podcast metric. Right? If so, then what is an impression? And why do we measure it?

Great questions! AND important to understand.

This is why we’re going to guide you through what is a podcast ad impression and what is a podcast download. After you will understand the two metrics and how we use them to measure the effectiveness of podcast ads.



In order to regulate the podcast sector, trusty IAB has defined the standards for a download and impression:

  • Download: A download counts if at least one minute of a podcast episode is downloaded. It needs to be filtered to exclude invalid and “bot” traffic and occur in a single day.
  • Impression: An impression is a full ad that has been downloaded in its entirety within a podcast download.

BUT…come on life is not that simple.

Each podcast platform handles downloads differently. Plus consumers listen in different ways. These factors complicate things and are the reason why if you try to compare the two, there will be discrepancies

Is a podcast download also an impression?


Here are two common situations to demonstrate how podcast downloads and impressions can be affected by player and listener.

Everyday situation one
A listener starts a 1-hour podcast. When she presses play, in the background her app starts downloading the episode content. She hears a pre-roll ad but stops listening (perhaps to work) after about 3 minutes. At this point, her app has only downloaded half the episode. When she picks it back up on the weekend to continue listening the player finishes the download at the halfway point. Because it starts halfway, no pre-roll ad is served. As this situation happens over two days, 2 downloads and 1 impression is measured.

Everyday situation two
Here’s what’s measured when a two-hour podcast is heard on the same day but over two sessions. In the first session, our listener hears 30 mins of the show. During this listening time, his player downloads the first 60 minutes of the show, including a mid-roll ad set to be played at the 45 min mark. BUT; because he only listens for 30 mins he doesn’t hear the ad. Later that same day when he comes back the previously downloaded ad is discarded and a new ad is called and downloaded. In this scenario, we have 1 download and 2 impressions tracked.


Download data should not be your go-to if you’re measuring a dynamically inserted ad. That’s because millions of downloads have been looked at and it verifies between 15-25% of downloads start in the middle. Plus about 5% of downloaded podcasts aren’t listened to. Therefore look at impression numbers.

If you have baked-in ads, like live reads, then download data will give you more in terms of accuracy for show popularity and listens.


For accurate analytics and ROAS, we track all the podcast ad metrics. Including user-level information too. This allows us to count ad requests and impressions as accurately as it is possible. We also adjust and clean up for multiple listener download requests, which also means your campaign has the perfect frequency and the listener experience is positive. Our approach means your forecasting and delivery are optimised against all IAB delivery standards.

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