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Tracking: January 14, 2020

ICYMI. Last Wednesday, I published an extra issue on Spotify’s push into podcast ad tech, via its new Streaming Ad Insertion product roll-out. I principally view the story as one about platform power, with Spotify looking to assume more market power by solving the monetization via advertising problem for the many deep-pocketed brands still meh on the medium due to its relative lack of robust analytics. Don’t look now, but we do seem to be the brink of the whole bifurcation thing I’ve been harping on about for years.

Meanwhile, retired legendary tech journalist Walt Mossberg took to Twitter to express displeasure with the development over user privacy grounds. “This planned violation of privacy by Spotify is a huge reason to stick with @Apple for podcasts,” he wrote. ”Ads in podcasts are fine with me, and I’ve even bought products advertised on some of my favorite shows. Ads based on vacuuming up my private info aren’t OK.”

Mossberg continued: “Most podcasts are already narrow enough that sponsors can do a decent job of figuring out where to place their ads. There’s no justification for offering them targeting based on personal information, except what I’m sure is the clamor inside the ad tech/privacy theft complex.”Speaking of… Morgan Stanley released its sixth annual music and radio survey as a private note to investors last week, and the big takeaway is this: Spotify has apparently surpassed Apple as the “most popular” podcast platform in 2019, with the survey showing a sharp jump between 2018 and 2019 for Spotify (18% to 24% of respondents) and a drop in the same period for Apple (23% to 21% of respondents). Meanwhile, on the other end, Pocket Casts grew from 3% to 5%, beating Stitcher, which grew 3% to 4%, and Overcast, which grew from 2% to 3%. Pandora, iHeartRadio, YouTube Music, and SoundCloud fill out the middle.

As always, grain of salt, one type of study based on its own methodology (online survey), all that.

Meanwhile, in Vulture… I wrote about how the team behind Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin? and How’s Work make those incredibly sensitive pods.