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Audible unveils podcast-monitoring service

A downloadable-audio clearinghouse offers podcast monitoring to provide usage data to marketers.

Audible, a clearinghouse for downloadable audio programs, unveiled a new auditing software service on Friday. The software can monitor podcast usage to show potential advertisers whether listeners are tuning in or dropping out.

Designed to report how many people download a podcast, the Audible Wordcast service will be expanded in the first quarter to report if a downloaded podcast was ever played and how long listeners tuned in before they tuned out.

"This provides the measurement and reporting technology for podcasters big and small," said David Joseph, an Audible spokesoerson. "They'll be able to build a rate card with this information for advertisers."

Some advertising already has begun on podcasts. Warner Films, for example, was a recent sponsor on Daily Source Code, a site produced by podcast pioneer Adam Curry.

It remains to be seen if mainstream companies will be as slow to advertise on podcasts as they were place ads online, a practice that has only recently gained momentum. Online advertising is capturing an increasing share of ad dollars, up 26 percent for the first six months of the year, compared with the previous year.

"As you see the success of these online advertisers, it's not much of a leap to go from Internet ads to podcasting ads, as it was from traditional ads to Internet ads," said Joseph.

Audible plans to charge podcasters 5 cents per listener-download for its expanded service, which includes measurement of usage. It will charge an additional half cent per download if the podcaster wants an ad inserted.

Podcasters who want only to measure the number of downloads and not the usage of that download will be charged 3 cents per download by Audible.

Advertisers will receive a podcast's aggregated information; no information on a particular user will be released, Joseph said.

The service is compatible with a range of devices from PCs to iPods to smart phones.