The data rules for podcasting are being updated

This is Hot Pod, The edge’s newsletter about podcasting and the audio industry. To register here for more.

Hello! I’m really excited to see so many of you this week at Hot Pod Summit and On Air Fest. I’ll be back on Tuesday with a summary of events. But first I look at the layoffs at WAMU, the IAB’s new podcast guidelines, and the ticking clock on union contract negotiations at Spotify.

Another NPR member station has committed layoffs, this time at WAMU in Washington, DC. While some public radio organizations have addressed budget shortfalls by cutting back on podcasts (NPR, WNYC), WAMU is leaving its audio operations intact by laying off and closing fifteen employees DCistthe local news website it bought five years ago.

“With the renewed focus on delivering audio-first storytelling, WAMU has made the decision to discontinue the site and social channels. An archive of the website is made available to staff to support their professional activities,” a statement from the organization said.

While the decision is framed as part of a new strategy that doubles down on live events and audio, it is unclear whether any new audio roles will be added. Currently, the only WAMU job available is that of a Development Director.

As is happening throughout the digital media industry, DCist is no longer available to the public. When you go to the website, a pop-up appears that automatically directs you to WAMU, and DC residents are understandably unhappy that the archive has been removed from the public record. A WAMU spokesperson did not respond Hot Pod‘s request for comment.

The podcast measurement standards organization has released new guidelines, addressing a number of data issues that have emerged in recent years. The new rules, which are not yet final, require certified companies to be more transparent about their measurement methods than in the past.

Ad companies, which have shied away from podcasting in the past year, “want transparency in how these calculations are done,” Shailley Singh, EVP of product and COO of the IAB Tech Lab, told me. Hot Pod. “So we’re trying to achieve that by providing increasingly detailed guidance.”

Podcast companies certified by the IAB, including NPR, Acast and Megaphone, among others, are expected to take steps such as filtering duplicate podcast downloads from Apple Watches, indicating whether they measure on a fixed or rolling 24-hour basis. and have practices in place to account for major technological shifts. That last guideline is particularly important given the massive drop in downloads across the industry due to a change in how Apple iOS 17 handles automatic downloads.

The IAB Tech Lab is accepting public comment on the new guidelines until March 23. You can view the document here.

Two of Spotify’s three podcast unions are facing contract deadlines this week. Gimlet and The Ringer, both affiliated with the Writers Guild of America, East (which also represents the Vox Media union, of which I belong), are clashing with Spotify management over contract details like pay and severance. The negotiations come at a time of massive layoffs in Spotify’s podcast business and the company being much more conservative on spending.

Members of the Gimlet union, which has been hollowed out by workforce cuts, have promised to strike if they cannot reach an agreement with Spotify management. In a statement, the union demanded “compensation that keeps pace with inflation, and in light of multiple layoffs at Spotify Studios, a more transparent and dignified approach to workforce reductions.” Yesterday, the Gimlet union posted on X that they have seen no movement on either issue.

The much larger Ringer Union has not yet made a strike pledge, but the group is also struggling to get Spotify to agree to its demands on AI use, layoff notices and pay increases. The Union posted on X Yesterday, Spotify management reported a 2.7 percent increase for the first year of the contract, followed by an annual increase of 2 percent for subsequent years. “We will not accept wage increases that are below inflation from a company worth as much as @Spotify,” the union said.

Neither Spotify nor the WGAE responded to a request for comment.

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