How do I get targeted ads in my podcasts?

So I listen to podcasts a lot, and they have started to have ads in the middle of the podcast more often. As the number of ads has increased the targeted nature of them has too. e.g. I’m listening to a British history podcast and I’ll get ads for local DC businesses.

The thing is I don’t use Spotify or other services that requires a log in, just a independent podcast app. So how does the targeting work? Does the server splice in the ad before proving the download, based on the IP address? Is my podcast app being evil and requesting a URL based on data its gotten from me somehow?

This would at least be technically possible. The app is downloading the files on your phone. And I’ve definitely encountered podcasts where the ads get updated–to the point where streaming old episodes will have current ads. And this is on a free and open source podcast player called AntennaPod.

I guess it’s possible your player is sending info. Perhaps trying downloading another podcast app (like the aforementioned AntennaPod) and subscribe to the same podcast, and see if you get the same ads. (To be fair, make sure you stream both of them, not download. That way you get the latest version.)

It’s a part of dynamic ad insertion. I’m pretty sure iTunes, Spotify, etc don’t actually host the podcast files (unless maybe they are part of an iTunes, Spotify, etc creator program to monetize the podcast directly with paid subscriptions? Dunno). So whatever company hosts the actual master podcast files geolocates your IP and dynamically inserts the local ad into the file that is sent to you via whichever podcast app you use.

So it doesn’t matter which podcast app you use, it’s a function that’s up to the podcast creator.

When your phone or your computer requests a file from a server on the internet, the request includes things like your IP address (which roughly correlates with your geographic location), the type of device you’re using, and the program you’re using to download the file. The server then swaps in relevant ad clips on the fly before it sends the file to you. This is called “dynamic ad insertion”.

There’s a fascinating/neat/vaguely creepy demonstration of this technology available at SoundsProfitable, a news/analysis website about the podcasting business. On a fundamental level, though, it’s no weirder than webpage advertisements being served to you based on your IP address.