What do you mean, Intermediary?

There are a lot of products out there that offer you a bit of bling for your RSS feeds, such as a way to ensure your feed is delivered to podcatchers (players), the ability to monetize, and provide the best analytics on your show. Sounds great, right?

These services require action (either by you, or by Acast) to put them in between Acast and the podcatcher. This can come in the form of an obfuscated feed or a prefix that is placed directly within your RSS feed. With this mask or prefix, they promise they'll be able to distribute your show and gain valuable insights into your analytics.

How do they work?

Intermediaries work as a sort of messenger between us (Acast) and the podcatcher (like Apple, Spotify, Deezer, Stitcher, Amazon, etc.), and they become a go between (that little prefix sure does a lot of work).

The way things work on a day-to-day basis (without an intermediary of any sort) is you (the podcaster) produce your audio and upload and publish to us. From there, we add it to your RSS feed and podcatchers ask us for updates, which we happily provide. In summation, it looks a bit like this:

When an go between like Feedburner gets involved, the process becomes a little more complicated. You put your hard work in, creating, editing, and publishing the episode. Then we (Acast) update your RSS feed. The intermediary then takes your RSS feed and the intermediary then becomes the one that the podcatchers request updates from:

In cases where the service is simply a prefix on an enclosure within the feed, it's a similar approach where instead of Acast's service being the main source of the media file, it's the stats service provider.

Sounds good, so what's the catch?

Intermediaries can cause a lot of trouble. If you ever played telephone as a kid, you know how messages may start at one end of the line but never make it to the end, or when they do the message has changed so much, it isn't even the same one. Think of an intermediary like that. The first or even second person in line can't tell you where the message dropped, and the person at the end of the line only knows they didn't get the right message (or any message at all).

With an intermediary, there are a few places things can go wrong. If you take the image above and zoom into the different points of potential failure, you'll see that a failure can happen here, where the intermediary is down and not able accept, read, or process your feed:

Or here, when for whatever reason (such as a corrupt feed or a downed service at the stats provider) the intermediary isn't passing your feed along to the podcatchers:

In either of the above two scenarios, Acast isn't able to troubleshoot the delivery issues with your show, because something sits between us and the podcatchers. We don't know where the information has stopped sending. And because we pride ourselves on the proper delivery of your feed to your listeners (and support if you're experiencing an issue), it's a risk that we can't take.

So what about my analytics? Or my extra ads?

As for stats, as you may be aware, Acast is one of a handful of companies which have undertaken the rigorous and expensive process of getting IAB certification for our analytics, in addition to our development several years ago of the PodIndex measurement protocols. This serves as a guarantee that the analytics we deliver to you adhere to the most stringent standards set by global advertisers (like Coca Cola, Gillette, Audible and dozens more as well as the requirements of the world’s leading publishers (like the BBC, the Guardian, News Corp, and Yahoo).

If monetization is your largest concern here, definitely chat with our Customer Success team. We'll be happy to help offer some pointers to continue to grow your show towards your goal of monetization.

Learn more about specifics regarding the different stats services and intermediaries, and why we don't support them here.

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