What Does IAB Certified Mean for Podcasters?

should you work only with iab certified companies?

If you’ve worked in digital advertising, you’ve probably heard of the IAB, which stands for Interactive Advertising Bureau. They create standards on how digital ads should be tracked. They oversee all online advertising, including display ads on websites, ads that pop up while you’re watching YouTube, and podcast ads. They also have a certification program where companies are audited to see if they meet the standards the IAB has set. So, how important is this for podcasters? Should you do business only with IAB-certified companies?

Here’s what we’re talking about today…

  • What is the IAB: Interactive Advertising Bureau?
  • Why did the IAB create a certification process for podcasts?
  • How does a podcast company become IAB certified?
  • What are the pros and cons of certification?
  • How do you know if IAB certification is right for your podcast?

Here’s a list of podcast companies who are currently IAB certified.

Here are the steps podcast companies need to complete to become IAB certified.

get my guide for creating podcast ads

Want to know more about the four steps I use when creating ads for my own podcast? This is a great guide to print out and follow each time you’re writing new ads for your show!

Sunny Gault | Podcast Coach and Mentor | Independent Podcast Network

Episode Transcript

If you’ve worked in digital advertising, you’ve probably heard of the IAB, which stands for Interactive Advertising Bureau. They create standards on how digital ad should be tracked. They oversee all online advertising, including display ads on websites, ads that pop up while you’re watching YouTube and podcast ads. They also have a certification program where companies are audited to see if they meet the standards the IAB has set. So how important is this for podcasters? Should you do business only with IAB certified companies? Today we’re exploring what IAB certification means for podcasters Take it away, Mister radio man. Podcast Your Business.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Podcast Your Business. I’m Sunny Gault. I am a podcast coach and mentor. And I’ve been podcasting for 17 years now, I was kind of one of those early adopters. And I’ve learned a lot over the years. And I love sharing that information with you guys. I’m also the founder and CEO of a company called Independent podcast network, you can find us at the longest URL in history https://independentpodcast.network, we’ve got a lot of free resources for you there. But today, I’m here to help you create amazing podcasts specifically for your business. And we do this by mastering the five P’s of podcasting. Yay. So the five Ps, this is something that I created early on, when I started coaching, because I wanted new podcasters to really be able to wrap their heads around how to have a successful podcast. And I came up with five different Ps that if you master these five Ps, you’re doing really good in podcasting, and they are prep, plan, produce, promote, and profit. And they’re kind of in chronological order. Okay, prep has to do with asking yourself questions, if you should even start a show. And why are you doing this? What’s your motivation or your intention behind starting a podcast plan is all about the look and feel for your show. And deciding what providers to work with produces creating the content, promote, of course, is telling everybody about it. And profit is where you make money. And let me tell you, if you’re doing this for your business, somehow your show has to come back, your podcast has to come back and help your business. Maybe that’s bringing in new clients. Maybe that is just connecting you with other thought leaders in the space, you decide what that is. But somehow and for those of you who are listening, that don’t have a podcast related to your business, think about how your podcast is benefiting you. Maybe that’s not financial, maybe that’s a mental thing. Maybe this is how you connect with the world and just share what’s on your heart. That’s okay. That’s why podcasting was created in the first place, but know what your goal is. Okay. How are you profiting maybe not by making money, but how are you benefiting from your podcast, Mr. radio man, which of these five P’s are we talking about today? Plan.

Planning for your podcast requires a lot of decision making, including what podcast platforms you’re going to use. And that includes your podcast host provider, and any other business handling your podcast analytics, or serving your podcast ads. And sometimes when you’re researching these companies, you will see what’s called an IAB seal, like a seal of approval on their website. So today we’re going to talk about what exactly that means. What is this whole ay ay b certification. So that’s the first question on our agenda today is to break down what the IAB is. It stands for Interactive Advertising Bureau. But there’s a little bit of history there. So we’ll go over that. We’ll also talk about why the IAB created a certification process for podcasts. What is it school? There was an issue, what are they trying to solve? How does a podcast company become IAB certified now for podcasters? This isn’t as important to know what the whole process is. But in doing research for this, I actually found it quite fascinating. So I thought I’d pass that information along to you guys. I also want to talk a little bit about the pros and cons of certification. And this is really going to come more from a company a podcast company that is thinking about certification, but again, it’s a podcast. I think in order to know what companies you want to work with, you have to know what ay ay b certification actually means and what did the company actually go through to get that certification? So we will talk about the pros and cons of what’s involved. And then finally, and this is for podcasters, you need to know if IAB certification is right for your podcast. So I’m just going to share some personal thoughts with me with me while I guess I’ll share it with me. I’ll share it with you guys too. But throughout this whole conversation, obviously you should be asking yourself that question. Is that really important to me? Is it important that the company follows these certain steps in order to get this official certification, and we are going to dive into all of these amazing questions right after this quick break. So today we’re talking about ay ay b certification for companies that are working with podcast, is this something that your podcast should be concerned about? You’re probably going to see IAB. And that seal of approval thrown around in different places. What exactly does that mean? And actually, you guys, I have to be honest, I learned a lot in researching for today’s episode, things I had no idea about. And you might be kind of surprised by some of the things that I’m going to say I’m always going to be 100% honest with you on how I feel about things. And I have to admit my whole opinion on this has changed after doing some research. So that’s your little cliffhanger. That’s the last question we’ll get to is what do I think about all this? So stay tuned.

Alright, let’s kick things off by talking about what ay ay b is because it’s not just for podcasts. As I mentioned, it stands for Interactive Advertising Bureau. And I always forget what it stands for, I want to say Internet Advertising Bureau. And that’s not right. It’s interactive. So what do we mean by that? We’re talking about anything that’s online. All right. So I looked at the official, you know, they actually have a Wikipedia page. So I was looking it up doing some research here. It says, it’s an American advertising business organization that develops industry standards, conducts research and provides legal support for the online advertising agency. So that’s anyone that’s doing ads online, not just for podcasts. But when podcasts really gotten into the space of advertising, and people started taking podcasts more seriously. That’s when the IAB got involved. But it originally was founded. And this has more to do with like web ads and things like this, but it was founded in 1996. It’s based in New York City. And, you know, so it’s been around for a while. But as we’ll talk about, it wasn’t until much later that they started kind of getting involved in podcasts. So why did the IAB create a certification process for companies that are dealing with podcast ads and analytics. So there was an issue in the podcasting space, there still is an issue. But IAB claims to be helping at the you know, to solve this issue, and that is, what constitutes a download or stream. Because we have people listening to podcasts in different ways, right? We have people downloading a podcast, to their, you know, mobile device, we have people that are streaming things online. So if you don’t have the internet, then you really can’t stream right. Well, what if you started to listen to a podcast, and then your kids, this would be my situation? Your kids interrupt you? And you’ve got to put it on pause, and you don’t get back to it until the next day? Is that still the same? Listen, or maybe you know, you exited out of the app you completely got out of the episode, then you come back? You know, what if multiple people in your household listen to the same podcast, but it’s downloaded? Like how do we track this? So I want to be very clear that this is a legitimate issue. And it’s not necessarily an issue until money gets involved, right? Because when it comes to advertising, which again, Interactive Advertising Bureau, IAB, when it comes to advertising, the advertisers want to make sure that they’re comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Because if they are looking to advertise on a show, and they want 100,000 impressions, or let’s just call them downloads, not really real term impressions is a better term. But people understand downloads more. So let’s say they want 100,000 impressions or downloads. And they’re working with one podcast, and this podcast and their host provider are selecting or deciding metrics one way, and then they talk to another podcaster. And their podcast host provider is counting downloads in a different way. Okay, now you’ve got apples to oranges. And this is an issue, and it has to be worked out. So there’s definitely an issue that we all kind of have to get on the same page, if we’re working with advertisers, because it is only fair to the advertisers. Other than working with advertisers. It’s really just about our own ego. I think you just no one says oh, I got 10,000 downloads a month and you know, someone else gets five and they’re not comparing, you know, the same things then it’s just hard to know what are the real stats? This has always been a problem in podcasting.

Okay. So if you look up what IAB officially says they do they say they set the standard for download streaming and listener behavior. They provide these industry standards words. So download analytics and unique listener counts are the same across all platforms. IAB is basically, if you want to look at it this way, it’s kind of like an accounting firm, for podcast companies, like an auditing firm, if you will. So they’re trying to make sure that when you say 10,000 downloads, it’s the same. And if another podcast, you know, reaches that amount that it’s comparing the same analytics, right? It makes sense. Certification for this is a voluntary process, it is not required, which is why sometimes you go to websites, and they may have a seal of approval and other websites don’t. No one’s forcing them. No one’s twisting their arm saying they have to do it. It’s just an option. Okay, but there is some peer pressure to do it. We’ll get to that in a second. And you should also know that several versions have been released. So the first certification process for podcast remember how I said, IAB was founded in 1996? Well, it wasn’t until 2016, that they came out with the podcast certification in September of 2016. And since then, they’ve had four additional updates. Now, as of today, which is August and 2023. They’ve had four additional updates, in addition to their initial release. Okay, the last one was in October of 2022. So that’s certification. When you go to these websites, and or you hear sometimes you’ll hear about it like in blog posts, they’ll be like, oh, so and so company is IAB certified, but you’ll also see another word that gets swapped in there. And the word is IAB compliant. Okay, so certification and compliance are two different things. It’s very tricky. And honestly, I think this is a marketing thing to, you know, kind of do it but not do it kind of thing. So compliance is when a company hasn’t gone through the official certification process. But they believe that they have marked all of the steps that ay ay b would require for certification, but they haven’t gone through all of the steps with the internet…..Oh, my goodness, I almost did it guys…. the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the IAB. Okay. So it’s like, it’s their their way of saying, Hey, we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. But we don’t have this official certification. So compliance is when they do it on their own certification is when they do it through the IAB. Okay.

Now let’s talk about how a podcast company becomes IAB certified. Because again, as you are deciding what companies to work with for your podcast, you need to know what does that seal actually mean? What in the world did they do? And I’m not going to get into all the technical stuff, you can actually find that online. And I did research it. And I am not an engineer, and it would be boring as heck to go through all of the different steps. But let me just tell you, the involvement. Okay. How does IAB get involved with the podcast company? And how does this certification process happen? First of all, it’s pretty in depth. Okay, this is a multi step audit of how these companies are tracking downloads, or impressions. It’s a complete review of their system, the IAB has come up with standards. And these podcasts companies have to fit their standards. It’s not pass or fail. So it’s not an audit, like, Okay, we’re gonna go through your stuff, and then you fail. And sorry, you don’t get certification. It is what they call interactive, which I find pretty funny because they’re the Interactive Advertising Bureau. But the IAB works with the company to identify any gaps and then fix those gaps. Okay, so what is your system like now, and then let’s go back in and let’s fix this. So everybody has the standard, and everyone is doing things the same way. So the numbers count the same across all podcasts. Now on their website, it claim or they claim that it takes 60 days. Ha ha ha. Word on the street is that it can take six months or longer. And I think this really has to do with there’s a lot of factors here. Okay, maybe the minimum is 60 days. But it really depends on the back and forth that happens, right? This whole interactive process that the IAB does, and it depends on the podcast company, like do they have enough people to be doing all this stuff like they have to take people off of doing their other work for this certification process. So they say 60 days, I have seen six months or even longer. So that’s up for debate. But here is the step, or multiple steps, here are the steps to complete this certification process. It starts with a kickoff call, where the company, meaning the podcast company, receives this certification checklist. So these are all the things you have to do. In general, this is without any kind of audit. But these are the things that the IAB is going to require in order for certification. So they basically just give them a laundry list of stuff that they have to do. Then the company, the podcasts company takes this list, and they implement whatever needs to be changed. So they may have some stuff, they may need to fix other things. And I believe it’s a text document that they have to go through. And they have to provide responses on what exactly they did. So not only do they need to make the changes whatever’s required to their system, but then there’s a text document where they have to be very detailed and tell the IAB what they did, then they let them know they turn everything in, right. And then the IAB does what they call an auditor review. So they use the responses from that text document. But they do a lot more than that. Okay. So they are doing what they call an in depth review, which includes reviewing all of the codes. So the back end of the podcast system, reviewing everything, they do test runs, and get this they even do interviews with some of the people. Maybe they don’t do that all the time, I’m not sure. But the website says they do interviews too. And if issues arise, then they tell the company what those issues are. And then it’s this back and forth. So remember, they said 60 days, I’ve heard a lot longer than that. And I think this is where things kind of get hung up, right? Oh, you haven’t done this, right? Oh, you change this. But then when you change this, it also impacted this. So now you have to go back and fix this. So there’s the back and forth. And then once that process is done, then they have what’s called a closing where the auditor agrees that there’s no more issues and then the company gets done to the door. There ay ay b seal of approval. Now got this, this wasn’t the way in the very beginning, but the ay ay b now says companies have to recertify if they make any significant technology changes, or they implement new features, okay, so they’ve got their original certification, they go through all of that process, they have to recertify if they make any huge changes or implement new features and get this there’s more But wait, there’s more. All ay ay b compliant companies. So they went through the whole process, right? They must recertify every year to keep their seal. So definitely, every year you have to recertify. And if you make any changes, you have to recertify as well. So you could potentially depending on how many changes you make, I would imagine they’ve tried to limit this, right. So if they’re gonna make a lot of changes, I would guess they would want to do that all in one, and have it coincide with their annual recertification, because who would want to do this multiple times per year. But that’s the whole process, guys. That’s how you get that seal of approval.

So let’s talk about the pros and cons of this. And I’m going to come from the perspective of a podcast company. These are the glaring ones. Okay. I’m sure that there’s a lot of things that someone who has actually gone through this process, which I have not, again, I’m just doing research for you guys can add a lot more to this. But for podcast companies, some of the cons are the cost because ay ay b does not do this out of the goodness of their heart just for the podcasting space to be good citizens. Okay. When it started, the original cost for the initial certification was $45,000. Now, that was a while ago, that was what 2016 So we’ve come you know, we’ve come…what is it seven years. Instant math, not my strong suit. So it’s been out there for a while and they have oh, I want to say this. They have dropped down their prices, kind of sorta because you gotta read the fine print. So the current cost is based on membership because IAB is not just this organization that does these things. For you know, the online advertising space But you need to become a member to and again, that’s not free. So, first of all, let me break down what the certification is, if you are a member, or if you’re not a member, and then I’ll tell you what the membership costs are, okay? So the current costs, again, this is, according to their website, current costs. If you are a member, and this is the first time that you’re going through the certification process is $12,500. If you are renewing, it is $6,250. Again, if you’re a member, if you are not a member, you are going to pay for the first time the first certification $17,500 And then to renew it is $8,750. So then, the big question is, obviously, you’re going to save some money, if you are a member. And on their website, they do have the cost for their membership. And it varies on different things. So I’m just going to go with their general membership cost. And this is based on the revenue that the company brings in, they call it the annual domestic digital revenue. And there’s a whole laundry list of options, but I’m just going to give you the the the bottom and the top. Okay, so the minimum, if you make between $0 and $7 million for your annual domestic digital revenue, then the membership fee is $10,000, just to be part of IAB and all of their glory, okay. And then at the top, which very few people probably are, but I’m just trying to give you some ranges here. If you are making $1 billion B with you know, billion with a B, if you’re making $1 billion as part of your annual domestic digital revenue, you could pay upwards of $300,000 or more, because it’s like, you know, depends, well, you know, 1 billion plus, are you in the plus you’re gonna pay more money, right? So do you see where I’m going with this here, so it is a lot of money, okay, you’re either paying it through your membership and IAB or you are paying it out right? To be part of this program. So that would be a con, I would say, for certification process for podcasts, companies, you also have the time that it’s going to take for certification and to do this back and forth with the IAB. And the time really depends, and I mentioned this earlier on how many people are working on it? What if you’re a small company, and you’ve got this great idea. And yes, you want to become certified because you want, you know, your podcasters to benefit and you know, be on this level playing field. But at the same time, it’s you and one other person, maybe you’ve got a freelancer and it’s not even a full time employee. So who’s going to spend all this time to go back and forth and make all of these changes. And again, it’s not something you do over a weekend, this is something that could take six months, or even longer, depending on how many people are working on it, and how many changes need to be made. So those are some of the cons for podcasts, companies.

I would say the pros are this, you are part of a system that standardizes podcast analytics. And that is something that I do believe that we need. If we’re going to do advertising, we have to be comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. That’s important. So, yay, you’re part of that system. Okay, that’s what that’s what the intention was. And you’re now part of this system. Not everybody is part of it. Okay, but you are now part of it. And you get to seal oil. That’s my seal, guys. So I’m really bad at animal noises or oil, you get a seal. And you get something you can promote for marketing purposes, because let’s be really, really honest. Everybody wants a seal for marketing purposes. I am IAB certified. Really, guys, this is about bragging rights. I remember when this whole certification process first came out, and that’s all people were talking about the podcast host providers were like, We were IP certified. We were the first company to be IAB certified. Right? It’s just bragging rights. Does it lead to more customers? Maybe, maybe because everyone’s making such a big deal out of it. And then the podcast or kind of feels like Well, geez, if I’m not part of one of these companies, you know, I’m an outsider or it’s, you know, the company is isn’t as good as other companies. It’s subpar in some way. So it provides this illusion. Is that even true? Probably not. Okay, I’m not saying you know, don’t be on guard with this and don’t do your research. But just because a company is an IAB certified, you know, it’s that whole certification versus compliance, right? They may say I’m IAB compliant or we’re IAB compliant. That means they looked at that laundry list that checklist and they went, Yeah, we’re not going to pay for your membership. We’re not going to pay for this whole back and forth. But this is good information, you came up with some good stuff. We’re going to implement this. And we are going to go along with this. So we can provide a service to our podcasters. But we’re not going to pay you all that money. So from my perspective, those are the main pros and cons for this certification.

Now, how do you know if IAB certification is right for your podcast? Well, first of all, you may be thinking, especially those of you who already have a podcast, and you already are working with the podcast host provider, as well as other podcast services that deal with analytics and ad serving, you may be wondering if the companies you have already selected are IAB certified. And there is a list, I will link to it in the description for this podcast episode. But there is a list. And you just need to pay attention, you know, at the top, because it has different tabs. So make sure you go to the podcast section. And you will see it’s a pretty good breakdown. It’s a breakdown of all the companies as well as that document that they provided of what exactly they did to their system to make themselves IAB compliant. So it’s a really good resource if you want to check it out. But is that important? Do all the companies that you work with for your podcast do they need to be IAB certified? Well, allegedly, being IAB certified, if you’re working with advertisers, is a good thing, allegedly. And I will say this might be true with ad agency. So if you have a large enough podcast, where you’re working with ad agencies, they could require the ad agency or whoever’s working with the brand, right, that side of the agency, they may say, we’re not working with any companies that aren’t IAB certified, that could just be one of their standards. But I will tell you, some of the best advertisers that I have worked with are not coming from these ad agencies. They are people that found the show, probably through the website, they’re more Mom and Pop companies. And you know what they care about? They care about who you are. They care about the information you’re putting out on your show. They may care about the quality of the podcast. And they care if you’re a good person, quite frankly, because you are going to be working directly with them. And if you don’t respond to emails, and you’re lackadaisical about stuff, and you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, that’s a problem. That’s what the smaller businesses care about. Do they want to return on their investment? Yes. But they can tell. Usually, there’s means there’s pixels and things like that, for them to be able to tell, okay, I’m paying X amount of dollars, what’s my return on investment? That’s what they’re going to look at. You know, I’m paying this, am I getting twice that back? Do you need the IAB for that? No, you don’t. You don’t need to be certified to get that information. So why are you working with companies that are IB certified? Other than peer pressure? Which is real, I get it.

So you probably see where I’m going with this when I started working on this episode. And the whole reason behind doing this episode is because again, you’re gonna see this out there, you’re gonna see this seal. And it’s something that not a lot of people talk about. And I had always been on the bandwagon of yes, we do need some sort of standard way for this to be tracked. And I still believe that. My question is, isn’t there a better way? Do we have to have an organization that charges 10s of 1000s of dollars, you know, for membership, or you just pay outright, and you still get charged 1000s and 1000s of dollars, and then you have to pay that every single year? From my perspective, guys, this helps large companies, and this harms small businesses. I’m just gonna say it like it is. And there’s a lot of marketing behind these kinds of certification programs, not just with the IAB, but general certification programs. So there is this incentive for companies to get on board. And it can be used against them, right? Because as a podcaster, if you see oh, well, this company is certified in this is not the initial thought is, well, the company that’s certified is better. But is that really true? Are there other companies out there that are IAB compliant, that just didn’t have the money to go through the certification process? That’s something to really consider as you are making these decisions for the companies, the podcast companies that you choose to work with. And here’s the danger. If enough people Start only working with IAB compliant companies, then the smaller companies will not be able to function, they will close up their shop, because they just don’t have enough of the market to make it work. The odds are stacked against them. We’ll be right back after this quick break.

So I did promise you guys a couple of links having to do with the IAB, if you want to do a little bit more research, I do have a specific link where you can check out all of the companies that have their IAB certification, so you can check and see, do I want to work with these companies? Do I not? Am I already working with IAB compliant companies, who knows, maybe they just don’t have the seal on their website. And then also, I’m going to include a link that kind of takes you through the process of what is involved, it’s actually a PDF. And it’s for companies that are thinking about becoming IAB certified. So if you want to look at some of this more in depth, I’ll provide that link for you as well. And of course, I’m gonna give you something for free. And I doubt you want something on IAB. So I be of course, we’re dealing with advertising, I have a handout for you, that is kind of loosely related. We’re talking about what to consider when writing ads for your podcast. And I go through a four-step process that I I do every time I write a podcast ad. So it’s kind of correlated, it kind of matches today’s episode, kind of not, but it’s still great information. I’ll include that link in the description below for today’s episode. And we have a bunch of changes a bunch of awesome things going on at our website for https://independent podcast.network. If you haven’t been to it before, please check it out. We have made this really simple. We have a ton of free content and whether you are a brand new podcast Are you been doing this a while just go ahead in the search bar at the top search for whatever topic you like. And either a blog post a podcast episode, a video or a handout, something is going to pop up I promise. And if there’s content that you want to learn more about, and we don’t have it on the site, just let me know there’s a contact form. Okay, until next week, remember, podcasts are awesome!

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