Remote Audio Data (RAD) support

Has anyone ever looked into Remote Audio Data, RAD, for implementing in AntennaPod.

https://rad.npr.org/dotorg/analytics/

The standard allows for analytic feedback for episodes while they are being played. At the moment most podcasters can track are if a podcast is downloaded, it cannot tell you if it was ever listened to, or if it was listened in full etc.

I am not too sure if the standard is taking off anywhere else. But has anyone looked at it for AntennaPod, even if it is to say, not implemented. If not is there any other solution out there that can provide feedback like that?

Hi and welcome to the forum!

I do not remember reading about something like this in the past. I am also not sure if this would align well with something I consider a core value of AntennaPod: user privacy. We do not know who listens to what podcast. We do not even have analytics that show how users use the app (even if this would make development a lot easier, sometimes).

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Thanks for the welcome.

I have total respect for user privacy. However how would these analytics be different than when the app downloads mp3 from the server? If user information can be leaked there is it not the same level of leak?

I would say AntennaPod should reveal user information as little as possible. In the case of downloading, there is nothing we can do – we need the file, after all. I do not really see why we should reveal user data on purpose by explicitly sending it somewhere.

The information collected by that protocol is a lot more than just the analytics that can be generated by looking at the web server logs:

https://rad.npr.org/dotorg/what-does-rad-mean-for-me/
RAD will allow publishers to receive organized, enhanced listening metrics on editorial, sponsorship and/or advertising messages they care about.
Downloads, starts/stops, completed ad/credit listens, partial ad/credit listens, ad/credit skips and content quartiles.

Yes that is the same point, my question was how was it more information being leaked if it must be leaked to get the mp3 in the first place. Don’t confuse user privacy with valid statistical information.

I would recommend adding the support and disabling it by default might be a valid path forward, it may be of use to the user to have it enabled, than having no access. If of course it was to be implemented.

I am investigating this because podcaster stats are important for podcasters when they are looking for advertisers. More accurate data is of immense use for people who are giving away the content for free, mostly, at least from the podcast user perspective .

My view is, with the Joe Rogan Spotify deal recently, the big name providers are not happy with what is there at the moment. The podcasting ecosystem is not working for them. (this is their view not mine) Which is why they want to create a walled garden around podcasts and pull the content onto platforms where they can control all the stats, because they can’t get it elsewhere. I am against the walled garden and trying to understand what can be done to head them off at the pass, as it were.

I don’t think any podcasts are supporting this or any protocol like this yet (except for the moves by Spotify)

Anyway it sounds like the answer here is it will not be implemented in AntennaPod no matter what. That answers my question.

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I don’t see the benefit to users of the app if this were implemented. It really only seems to benefit podcast creators. I also have very high respect for @ByteHamster that AntennaPod does not include any trackers that can at times make development easier. There are downsides, but I think the more we can reduce data collection, that we are all overwhelmed with, is better for individuals and privacy.

The fact that podcasters are moving to walled gardens is no different than news sources doing the same. One of my favorite podcasts just did that (went to Spotify) and I was very disappointed. I would gladly pay to support something like AntennaPod, but I refuse to support a walled garden. That just further reinforces the class divisions most of us face. There will sheets be respectable podcasts (and news sources) that don’t charge. Besides, it’s even more appalling to see people doing that during times like now when even more people are suffering financially.

I love AntennaPod, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.

However in addition to the walled garden problem, which I would like to see a solution, I feel it is something that if it was to be done should have been done 5 years ago.

However in your post you said that there is no benefit for the user only the creator. First up why not help the creator, it is their content being consumed, we tacitly like them? :wink: Second, the benefit to the user might not be obvious from the primary case but maybe the secondary case.

I have a real problem with the stats as they are. They only track downloads and/or streaming. Streaming is good in that you get all the information you want, duration etc. With downloads you get the downloads, but you can never find out if there were listened to and you can never find out if the user enjoyed it or not.

This feedback, or lack of it, is a major hindrance for podcasts, at least for me as a user/consumer. I would like to know about some popular podcast episode that is blowing up at the moment, but also without having to subscribe the the whole feed. Podcast recommendations are not very good. Every solution is a weak hack. Some curated feeds here, sniffing twitter chatter there etc. There doesn’t seem to be a good way to dip straight into the player and access the user themselves to help pick content for them based on what they themselves have consumed and enjoyed.

Any way that is just my little bug bear, I can’t figure out how to crack that nut without better hooks into the player, server side can only deliver so much information.

I could be a dinosaur here, most traffic is now streaming over downloads, at that point the argument becomes moot. The server side gets all the relevant data at that point.

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Thank you for your lengthy and thoughtful reply, much appreciated. It helps me better understand where you’re coming from.

I couldn’t agree more. :+1: That’s why I’m here too.

This is an excellent point; one in which I had not thought about in relation to this discussion.

This is probably the only major issue that I have with AntennaPod. A number of podcasts I listen often reference a single episode on another pod and I don’t want to subscribe to the whole thing, just get the one episode.

I think the issue of not knowing if listeners enjoyed an episode is much bigger than this. I see it as I’ve of the primary downsides to podcasts. I don’t know what a solution is either. The main way I find new ones is through references from one I suggest listen to. Similar to a comment that @ByteHamster made in another thread, neither of the two main methods successfully promote new content to listeners.

Hahaha :joy:. You’re not the only one. I live in a rural community and don’t have reliable mobile service or WiFi and have to download if I want to listen to anything. Not to mention, I only listen on one device. I don’t switch between different devices and don’t need to sync. Besides, I’m old. I understand streaming video but not audio content. :thinking:

For your information in 2.0.0 beta you can preview an episode from a podcast you didn’t subscribe.
To do it : find your podcast then click on an episode and you will see a preview button. Queueing it is not possible to force user to subscribe if they are really interested in a podcast. (If I remember correctly it was the reason even though it would have been nice being able to)

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I agree with @ByteHamster, AntennaPod is the only free, no ads, privacy minded player and open sourced. Long term, this is good for the community, (publishers and listeners) to have an independent podcast player.

There is no need to send user analytics back to the podcasters for ad purposes. We also release to the Fdroid community, which wants even more privacy by stripping out Google Play api, which is tracking us.

This is a big reason I am contributing code. I was also attracted to the zero funding model, so we are not obligated to anyone.

If I had a vote, I would vote against this.

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Hmmmm, interesting. I’ll have to look again. I’m on RC7 and never noticed this.

I use my queue almost exclusively, so I’m a little disappointed to hear that queueing is not possible for single episodes. Quite frequently, I have single episodes I want to listen to but not subscribe to the entire pod. It’s a pain (though minor in the grand scheme of the world and a privilege to even do this) to subscribe, download, listen, then unsubscribe.

There is a technical reason, too. AntennaPod stores a list of subscriptions and a list of their episodes. An episode without a subscription does not really fit into AntennaPod’s database. We could change the data model but I think that the huge amount of work and maintenance is not worth it.

I’m curious to break this apart a little more and explore the various pieces of it. It strikes me as interesting, particularly in the world that we live today. In some ways, this seems tied to the original idea of podcasts. However, I think this has changed quite a lot.

In particular, if we use Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or any number of social media platforms, as an example; we see that the attention span of people has both decreased and become less focused. I have heard several podcasters discuss this as well. They have their dedicated base of listeners. However, depending on the content they put out, their popularity and number of listeners varies greatly.

I specifically think this is tied to the walled garden dilemma that @mavek was referencing earlier. The idea behind that is multiple. One is, as I think most people now know, the previously traditional model of advertising does not work as a revenue model. The second reason is that there is the perception; and I think false at that, whereby if an individual pays for a subscription for something, they will be more likely to consume that content and stay dedicated to that content. I’ve seen studies that show this is generally not the case. I think it is further reinforced by the fact that most services (obviously not all) are now month by month and no longer for a set period of time.

But back to your statement before I digress any further.

Anything can fit into a database if we want it to. I accept that the way AntennaPod is currently set up and coded is based on the fact that the “subscription” is at the top of the hierarchy. However, don’t you think that this has the likelihood of putting greater limitations on the app in the future?

I have a few more thoughts on this, but I think this is good enough for now. I’m curious to hear what others have to say.

Maybe this thread needs to be separated into a different one called “Walled garden apocalypse”. I specifically set the category to podcast discussion instead of feature request, because I am more interested in the sentiment.

I think people get privacy and transparency mixed up. A open source tool can have API calls in the that might notify 3rd party of data, there is nothing wrong with that. It is when it is embedded and the user can’t find out that it becomes an issue. Do people know how much AntennaPod or any podcatcher leaks just from the very act of having to access a remote server to get the podcast. There is a massive amount of information there. There is nothing wrong with that, but is is there. Adding a feature, and being up front is the correct way, not complete lockdown, security by obscurity doesn’t really work.

I am not invested in the RAD protocol, i am curious in general about any protocol like that, I have not heard of any other. I thread softly though. I look to the DVD region encoding scandal for lessons. Tech companies asked for it to help them control releases of DVD against new movies as they were being released in different territories. Usually this is because the film reel itself was expensive and it was being moved around the planet. I agreed with this usage. Then in 2000, or something, there was a DVD release of Die Hard with some extra features, but only released in the US region. I couldn’t get it and watch it in Europe, and that movie was 12 years old at that point, so long after the cinema release. They were still using the region encoding to control the market, even though that was not why it was put in there.

I have seen the walls go up all over the place. Lots of websites want you on their website, not some rss reader, it is a pain. There is a suite of tools trying to do the good work:

However it is an endless arms race of fixed the feeds, the source websites changing their protocol etc. I have seen a few podcasts disappear already but no longer publishing their rss feed, but you can access the content if you go to their website, ugh!

If you want to see how crazy it can get. Netlix was great at the start, a one stop shop for movies on line, because the other companies didn’t think there was anything of value there. Then when they saw the amount of money been made they started yanked their content off netflix and see have tonnes of service competing for our money, amazon prime, cbs, Disney etc etc. But we can’t afford it all so effectively there is content out of reach now that wasn’t before. Spotify now looks very like Netflix then.

Podcasting is changing, whether we like it or not. They say the content that goes into the walled garden will by definition not be a podcast any more. But if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck.

Any way like @tenkara_vt i am very interested in exploring these ideas a bit more.

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What is the value to the user by adding this support?

If a provider like NPR decides that podcast players have to use RAD for their podcasts in order to download, then it makes sense to implement.

If we implement this, then we need to actually put in a privacy policy and users needs to accept it and because of GDPR, the app needs to do more to confirm.

Do we allow users to turn it off? Would this ON or or OFF by default?

If I listen to everything offline, and turn on data to download, does the app queue the analytics and batch send the data?

Unless there is user value, or user demand to support the providers, or the maintainer feel strongly about this addition, I am not sure this will move forward

I believe all those points are covered above.

I agree. In the bigger picture of things, I still don’t feel the user value outweighs the negatives and I don’t think it is worth implementing this. As @mavek said, content providers/creators are not using it; as such, this further reduces the value to users.

That being said, I agree with @mavek in that this is a valuable discussion to have, particularly because it has impact. As the conversation has evolved it has become more existential because we as users/listeners continue to face an uphill battle. I would hope that it is users that drive this; however, within the economic system in which we all live, this is not the case. As long as the motivation for profit is first, what is best for users will remain less important.

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