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Downloads from the Apple Watch podcast are now filtered out

The way Apple Watch podcast downloads are counted is changed to avoid double counting that happened with the original approach. The problem only arises with Apple’s own Podcasts app.

This change means that podcasts will see their audience numbers drop – and in fact for Apple Watch listeners to disappear more or less completely …

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently announced the issue in somewhat technical terms.

Concerns have recently been raised about Apple’s watchOS Podcasts app. Downloads to an Apple Watch appear to be duplicated by downloads to a user̵

7;s iPhone after the clock completes the sync cycle. This result can result in significantly inflated reporting of downloads and listeners.

IAB Tech Lab’s technical guidelines for podcast measurement describe how most podcast measurement takes place on the server today (due to lack of access on the client side), and how it makes it a bit challenging to distinguish between a download and an actual listen. The guidelines provide further details on a filtering methodology to be used on server logs to generate consistently reliable and accurate measurements of downloads and listeners.

AdTech done a better job of making this plain English.

“By default, when you charge Apple Watch, you subscribe to podcasts to sync with Apple Watch.” So when a new episode of Podnews comes out, if I’ve touched zero settings on my phone related to standard Apple Podcasts app behavior, then the watch will automatically download the last episode the next time it loads, even though it was already fully downloaded on iPhone. If I charge my phone and watch overnight and receive an episode update, my host should see it […] two device user agents from my IP address trying to download the episode.

In other words, because the default is for both iPhone and Apple Watch to download the same podcast episode, and because they report different device user agents, it appears that two different people are downloading the content.

To avoid the problem, IAB wants to filter out Watch downloads from the official Apple app completely.

Given the above concerns, Podcast Technical Working Group recommends that Apple Podcasts app watchOS user agent requests should be filtered all the way to the front and not considered unique downloads / listeners.

AdTech notes that this will now make it impossible for ads to target Apple Watch owners.

Luke Riley from Megafon quoted in April 2019 that on Podcasts by Megafon Apple Podcasts on Apple Watch “[…] gets more monthly downloads than well-established apps like Stitcher, Castbox and Overcast, and more downloads than all the smart speakers combined. “It can be quite large for many publishers.

If the podcast host follows the suggestion above to target only the download user agent, you will realistically see that most of your Apple Watch inventory dries up. The streaming volume of Apple Podcasts for watchOS will be far lower than downloads. Although I have not come across anyone who is particularly targeted at this inventory, it is a good thing to keep in mind that you are losing a potential targeting option.

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