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Is your favourite podcast tracking you? Overcast update spills the beans

The popular podcast app Overcast will now warn listeners if their favourite shows are  tracking them to serve targeted ads.

A new beta version of the app will tell users whether they’re likely to hear dynamic ads based upon their location, or other uniquely identifying information.

An update seen by The Verge informs users if “downloading or streaming its episodes will reveal your IP address to them which they may use to servicer information about you.” In a first for any of the major podcast apps, Overcast will now inform listeners if a show “may follow individual-listener behaviour across multiple shows or the web, often to track responses to ads.”

The app will also inform users which external services the podcast producer users to help with hosting, data collection and inserting advertisements. Users will now be able to tap on these services – those like Podsights, Podtrac, Chartable and Megaphone – to learn more about them.

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Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to opt out of the tracking, but if you feel a podcaster is pushing the boundaries of acceptability when it comes to serving ads, you’ll have the option to switch up your listening habits.

Screenshots of an iPhone's software update details

Image credit: The Verge

As The Verge points out, this is a major break with Spotify, which is currently looking to assert dominance over podcasts in much the way it has music streaming. It already knows plenty about what podcast listeners are likely to be into because they have access to each account holders music streaming preferences. The company is also allowing advertisers to target users based on the podcasts they listen to.

Last summer, the company said: “We aspire to develop a more robust advertising solution for podcasts that will allow us to layer in the kind of targeting, measurement, and reporting capabilities we have for ads that run alongside other content experiences like music and video.”

Overcast offers betas to the public, so this tool is readily available via Apple’s TestFlight app. If you wish to take it for a spin. It’ll be interesting to see whether other podcasting apps will follow suit.

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