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Cheap, sloppy dynamic ad insertion (DAI) in podcasts continues to degrade the experience for listeners. They blame the app, and that’s my problem to deal with. But DAI podcasters: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! You’re throwing your audience away. These people will leave podcasts forever.
99 replies and sub-replies as of Jul 16 2022

If Overcast was inserting ads you’d do such a better job than the people who make their actual podcast
Wonder if you could detect a DAI segment and put up some UI indicating such? I feel like you’re going to be stuck battling this tide. It’s unfortunate because few would blame a TV when their show is interrupted but podcasts don’t have that associated expectation.
There's a "privacy" link in the info section of every podcast that will report if it uses DAI. Maybe could be shown as an icon on the main podcast page as well or something.
I'm sure Marco mentioned the possibility of looking patterns when people skip sections, to provide auto skip,on APT years ago(or maybe it was a thought I had while listening to an episode) - but the impact on decent podcasts would be very bad, &would hasten platforms like Spotify
Yeah. I’m not suggestion a skip feature. Ads are an important part of many ecosystems. AdTech is often pretty gross, of course, but ads can be done well. (See ATP, etc). And a “this ain’t my fault!” UI isn’t super cool but is at least informative and listeners can learn from it.
Agree. iCloud private relay for apps would be nice here.
While people don’t have the mental model for understanding where these ads come from, one silver lining is when the insertion breaks & there are no ads (more often what I hear lately). If you can detect the ads, what about offering a premium “skip detected audio ads” option?
Sounds like something @marcoarment could try to solve using machine learning? Detect the ad based on the large sampling of podcasts.
No ML needed; he could do fingerprints of sections of the audio and compare across clients. Heck, even comparing lengths would be enough. But… to what end?
Time to reconsider adding ad skipping to Overcast?
I assume that’s very difficult with dynamic insertion though… Possibly though ML?
I think the hardest part for Marco would be getting in trouble for doing it. I’m pretty sure it’s not worth the hassle.
I mean, if they catch wind, I am pretty sure they could bar him from having access to their feed. People who didn’t like Luminary’s business model had their podcasts pulled just for that. Being more neutral has advantages…
That’s a really bad spot you’re in. Perhaps have some clarifications in app and AppStore? I’ve been a paying customer since day 1 and know it’s the podcasts doing the ads, but “normals” need education.
If you look at those reviews, one of them actually contacted Marco, who explained the situation, but the customer still doesn’t believe him. So some text in the app blurb isn’t going to help (especially as 99% of customers will never read it)
If anything I’ve noticed a lot of blank silences where ads should be lately. I’d give you six stars if you could do it on purpose.
I’ve noticed a big uptick in crappy placement of these ads. They annoy me for sure, but your well placed fast-forward buttons save me. Mainly because the ads are all done in 30s increments it seems.
DAI is a scourge. But I suspect this drives ad-free subscriptions more than hearing your fav podcaster do their funny take on how to sell testicle hair trimmers.
I assumed that subscriptions for car features were a way of gaming the taxation regime? For example, we had to configure my wife's car sub-optimally to keep under an arbitrary amount that would trigger significant tax. A subscription presumably wouldn't contribute to that figure?
(Possibly sensitive)
I’m amazed they would blame the podcast app and not the podcast show itself. It’s like blaming Samsung for getting a loud infomercial late at night!
I'm sure some people do blame Samsung for that!
They have prior knowledge from YouTube about ads that interrupt the content.
And, like another commenter mentioned, YouTube. Especially in YouTube’s case users understand that YouTubers ads in themselves and that separately YouTube inserts their own ads. It’s rare that an in-video ad is not read by the YouTuber so that has become the differentiator.
It does feel a bit stupid of the user, but it's still something Marco has to address with the user so the clarity is there. I'd certainly be placing a "OVERCAST DOES NO INSERT ADVERTISING" line pretty prominently on the app listing, and maybe even as an alert in the app.
Education is really the only way to help users, podcasts are not incentivized. Maybe the new UI can have a call to action “Report Ad” text that pops a page with a basic explaination and a “Read More Here”? Annoyed people will click wanting to stop the ads as youtube has trained.
Something changed recently in the DAI world and it got even grosser. I now long for the days when I was annoyed by sloppy DAI that was at least actual host reads of reasonable podcast ads. It's now eg. the same sleazy local billboard lawyers you get on cable and talk radio.
Should be possible to determine DAI podcasts because of variing length, probably put in a warning in UI for those podcasts?
Might be worth a one-time splash screen trying to clear up the misconception?
Also (to podcasters who use ads) stop putting ads in the middle of your podcasts. There are for sure people who are going to crash their car trying to skip through them.
Crazy things I've seen: 1. The same ad, repeated 3 times in a row in sequence 2. 5 minutes of ads at the beginning of a podcast, then no more after 3. Geotargeted ads from other states 4. Multi-minute blocks of silence
You should display a one-time splash screen to warn users where this is coming from. Perhaps it could use logic to display to a user as they launch specific podcasts which use DAI.
Expecting people to read, understand, and remember something like this is... optimistic.
Simple words and some imagery can work wonders.
I’m a software developer and I rarely read stuff that pops up like that (thinking “I should have read that” while I hammer on the OK button), with normal people you have no hope I’m afraid. It is just human nature to ignore stuff like that 🙁
This screen already exists. It’s on every podcast’s page in the header. Perhaps it could be emphasized more when DAI is known.
I downloaded one episode of Parks and Recollection while I was in Puerto Rico and now all of my ads on that show are in Spanish
My ad was in spanish too, in Chicago so I think it's just this episode lol
I had a spanish ad on a comic book podcast I listen to as well.
As a publisher your feelings about advertising have to be complicated, but ad blockers will be par for the course eventually, no?
Re the audio level troubles, are you doing any sort of normalization? If not why not?
There are pros and cons to that, as it will harm podcasts that intentionally make use of dynamic range. Also, everyone should have volume limit setup on their phones. This should be on by default, but it is sadly not.
This is a very good point, but would need to consider the amount that actually do use dynamic range. As a user I would much rather take normalized audio when listening via a streaming service. Many times it's a setting. Letting LUFS run wild between tracks/cuts ruins it for me
You need to add a pre-roll that plays before all DAI podcast episodes by default that tells the listener that the podcast publisher inserts ads that are targeted to the user.
I really appreciate that you dont do this on your shows :)
I can't think of anything worse than the equivalent of "Google AdSense, but for podcasts". I've noticed ads where playback starts mid-sentence.
That's what Spotify wants to be the "Google AdSense" of audio. Creators will make less money and the listening experience becomes inferior
What is especially annoying is that I would *gladly* pay to remove ads - but I dont want to be forced to use a different player then for that platform. I *love* Overcast, and only wish it were possible to pay you to distribute money to the podcast owners to remove ads...
Possible to determine podcasts that use DAI so you can display a disclaimer of some kind?
Have you considered making the podcast feed privacy details more apparent? I bet a lot of users don’t even notice the “ℹ️ Privacy” link. It’s a trade of view space for awareness but App Store did similar?
“Leave podcasts forever” seems a bit overstated. Folks still use web browsers and visit websites that are plastered with ads. I installed a content blocker on my mom’s phone last week. In 2022.
I’m still surprised whenever I meet someone who is in the prime demographic for podcasts (25-55 yrs old, moderately tech savvy, etc.) yet has never listened to podcasts. I don’t think podcasts and the web are comparable in this way. 1/
Podcasting is still a slightly niche medium, particularly when considered in the landscape of media as a whole, and so I don’t think it’s going to be as sticky and pervasive as the web and is not an exaggeration to say that DAI could turn people off podcasting altogether. 2/
I’m sure @marcoarment has the stats on this, but I’m guessing the average podcast listener subscribes to less than a handful of podcasts. The folks in this thread are obviously going to be the outliers. So I feel it would not take much to turn someone off the medium altogether.
Or have a permanent DAI warning symbol present for the podcast that use it
Two unsolicited cents: Nobody is gonna read a dialog, but some TV shows start with an audible “warning: viewer discretion advised.” I could see something similar helping here on first play, provided you can identify DAI podcasts.
I prefer my podcast ad-free anyways. 😎#Value4Value
The really insidious thing here is that Spotify has gotten users used to shitty DAI, so when shows put in their *own* DAI, Spotify users don’t notice or care, but Overcast users notice the difference.
How has Spotify gotten people used to shitty DAI? Does Spotify insert ads into all podcasts?
What types of Podcasts are using DAI the most? I listen to lots of podcasts and pretty much all of them still have host read ads
Everything on the iheartradio network is overrun with DAI ads. I stopped listening to shows on that network because of it.
That absolutely sucks… I’d propose you make an in-App notification saying „FYI, you may be listening to more frequent ads, maybe even in a different language than the podcast itself. That’s… [short explanation]… and not under our control. Contact the Podcaster & vent there plz
This is an education problem not an app problem.
The whiplash I get every time @SYSKPodcast or @verge starts with a German ad for a trashy supermarket or tv show…
I know most people wouldn't read it but a UI notice in app for the worst offenders?
Maybe you can detect DAI by downloading multiple copies of the same audio file from different locations (VPN) then compare the length/file size/etc? If they differ, assume DAI and display warning. Sorry if someone mentioned this already ❤️ great work!
this includes you guys.
Some podcasts feel like they are really provoking someone to go ahead and make adblock for podcasts...
I use Apple Podcasts and still experience similar issues so it’s definitely not the developers fault for the ads talked about in these reviews.
Any way to detect a podcast that does bad DAI and badge them, to tell listeners and to put some pressure on the publishers to change?
In the last year we’ve seen: • a significant increase in the adoption of DAI tech/programmatic ads; • by creators with less than 18 months of experience in this industry; • using tools that vary wildly between hosting platforms What other outcome could you expect?
After working on the iHeartRadio iOS app for a couple of years I can confirm….DAI is a nightmare
There are better ways to monetize without losing audience, I agree. As a listener myself I can't stand random programmatic ads that don't even have anything to do with the episode im listening to.
Also LOL @ the American complaining about foreign ads. Welcome to the rest of the world pal. What’s a Casper? Tonx?
Hey Marco: would you be willing to join the ongoing conversations already happening about this significant problem in our industry? Pointing fingers isn’t enough. We could use your help. Right @BryanBarletta? 😁 Help us help you (and our listeners!)
Question: does tweeting/complaining about a problem do any good? Yes, we need to be aware of and understand the problems we face. But that’s not enough! What is the solution? What actions can we take ourselves, before we ask others to follow us and help solve the problem?
I've talked to Marco before about ads and his views are mostly that Overcast is no different than a browser. And he's right, nobody complains to Google about ads in Chrome. Ads aren't the problem. Adtech isn't the problem. Publishers making sloppy decisions are the problem.
As a publisher I am still at a point where programmatic ads are not an option for any of my shows. Advertisers, podcasters, and the the tech/companies we use to create, publish, AND consume podcasts can all help make things better for everyone. We all need to work together!
I promise you that if we sat down and strategized exactly where to put ads, what partners to work with, and how tight to filter things, you could hit all of your goals. I get your concerns, but you haven't even logged into one of these tools and tried. Don't buy into the fear.
I’m not buying into the fear. I’m just too much of a control freak when it comes to the listener experience. 😬 And I haven’t found the right partners - yet. And it’s not worth $50 for me to disrupt my listeners’ experience. My indie shows - like most - aren’t big enough.
Also, most the ads I hear don’t meet my high audio standards, so I’d want to tweak them myself before they ended up in my shows, which isn’t an option for some of the ad networks. Right? Host read DAI and baked in add are easier, and baked in can be more profitable for right now.
From where I’m sitting, the problem originates with the emphasis I see on premature monetization. New podcasters take the easiest route to making a few bucks and don’t actually care about their listeners at all! There’s no quality control or enforced standards. I am here to help.
There are hundreds of major websites out there slammed full of ads that make it almost impossible to read the content and yet, we still keep going to them. The only way this changes is if people stop listening to shows with bad ad layouts.
I will stop browsing a website if the ads are obnoxious. But an audio ad in an audio only medium is much more disruptive than even a pop-over ad on a web page. Our experience browsing is not even close to the same as listening, which is also not the same as watching a video.
I just thought of a "what if web ads were like podcast ads" scenario: I'm reading @SoundsProfNews, and all of a sudden the article is obscured by a full screen video ad that is 10x brighter than my screen and there's no close button, but I can skip it 30 seconds at a time 🤣
You should stop reading SP then!
While I'm running the Sounds Profitable website, I can guarantee that'll not be happening... :)
I also know that you both would never subject your listeners to bad ad experiences in your podcasts. 😁
Looking at you, @20korg 👀 I started listening again recently after quite a long break and the new dynamic ads are terrible 😩 I’m likely to subscribe to support the good work, so I won’t hear them anymore, but it’s a disturbing addition to a show focused on good audio.
Well, at least one of their ads is pretty good.
Hey Andrew, just so I know... are you talking about ads in general (where I'm reading them) or the ads on our feed that are voiced by random people?
The injected ads. I never have a problem with hosts reading their own ads ❤️ it makes them fit with the vibe of the show. It’s quite clear they are injected, using geographically local content with Aussie accents, it makes for a disjointed and fairly annoying experience.
Thanks for the additional info! We had a meeting today about this and have decided to remove automated ads on our prerolls and postrolls entirely. I’ve also been startled by them myself. You’ll still occasionally hear them on our back catalog in the midrolls (2 max).
Fantastic! Thank you! 😁
It does seem to depend how frequently I download, though. The first few shows I grabbed recently had ads, I just tried to download another and it had none. So I can’t demonstrate at the moment 😅