Update: 16th December 2022

We have taken the decision to update our podcasters’ data and remove downloads from the Samsung Free app. We understand how important having accurate data is to our users, to best understand their audience and show performance, as well as to our advertisers.

Therefore, all download data from between 23rd November and 1st December will be reprocessed, with all listens from the specific user-agent being removed. This is the start date that we confirmed the listens were caused by automatic behaviour from the app, and not intentionally triggered by users. We also stopped ads running on monetized shows on this date.

As we are updating a lot of data, our systems will take some time to update for all users. You should see the change in your Insights dashboard over the next couple of days over the weekend 17th/18th December, only impacting downloads coming from ‘unknown Android app’. You should not see an impact on other apps such as Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

We have been monitoring the downloads carefully to decide when the app behaviour returned to normal and we can stop this additional filtering. As of the beginning of December we are including downloads from this user-agent, and will start monetising these downloads with ads again as of Monday 19th December.

Acast is IAB v2.1 certified, and these downloads are considered IAB valid. However, since we have been able to confirm that these listens are caused automatically from the app, we will apply this additional filtering in accordance with IAB’s recommendations on auto-downloads.

What if I am part of an external podcast ranker?

Acast has been working with external podcast rankers around the world to find the best way forward to handle this situation. You can find more information about respective rankers on their website.

Summary

As of Nov 15th, we - along with many other podcast hosting platforms - identified a steady increase in listens coming from an app identifying itself as an ‘unknown Android app’. The impact varied across shows, with some seeing large spikes in traffic. As we monitored the trend, we saw the number of listens increasing.

From our analysis of the download behaviour, we found that it was highly unlikely that these were listens triggered by actual users, but instead automatic downloads generated by the app. Under IAB guidelines, these listens are considered valid. This was impacting all platforms, not only Acast.

We identified that the traffic was coming only from Samsung phones. Samsung confirmed that an update to their Samsung Free app was the cause of this increase. Samsung have since fixed the update causing the issue and released an updated version of the app.

For those in the Acast Marketplace, we took the measure to demonetise listens coming from this user-agent, which means no ads are running on them. This was important whilst we assess the impact and root cause of the inflation, to protect our advertisers.

Technical Details

The source is identifying itself as a ‘generic Android app’, with the user-agent prefix Dalvik/2.1.0 (Linux; U; Android%. We have specifically removed user-agents containing 'SM', for example:

Dalvik/2.1.0 (Linux; U; Android 12; SM-A125U Build/SP1A.210812.016)

If you’re interested in learning more about how website and app behaviour can impact listening data in general, read our best practices guidelines here.

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