Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Show HN: I built a podcast app that skips over the ads (adskippro.com)
124 points by adskipprod 49 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 267 comments

I block ads on the web because web advertising networks proved that they had no respect for user privacy, lacked security controls around their ad delivery, and were targeting using data that they probably shouldn’t have had access to.

Podcasts do not suffer from this. It’s much harder to identify a user, the ads aren’t software, just audio, so security is better and there’s not much way to see who is listening to the ads other than voucher codes/referral links (which are inherently opt-in).

Yes I can always skip ads. Do I feel any security or privacy need to automate doing this? No.

If/when podcast advertising goes the way of web advertising, then there will be an eager market for this product, but until then let’s enjoy unobtrusive, respectful ads from hosts we trust, with targeting done broadly by podcast rather than personally identifiable information.

I agree. On the web, I've actually stopped using a real ad blocker over the past few years and just use EFF's privacy badger. That only sets out to block tracking, but coincidentally enough it effectively blocks most nuisance ads.

With podcast ads that are just inlined in the audio stream and based only on content, not user tracking, I'm perfectly happy to either listen to them if they're interesting or tap the 30 second skip button if they're not. (I probably only bother fishing my phone out to tap the 30 second skip button 15% of the time. They're more frequently interesting me enough for me to do a web search for the company that's advertised.)

Yeah podcasts are one of the few domains I don't find ads intrusive and can't be bothered to care to skip them. Often I find they are more useful and better targeted than web ads, I might not go as far as saying I'm interested in hearing them but it never feels "in the way" of the content I want.

Couldn't agree more.

I block ads on the web due to the invasive tracking and targeting. I'm not opposed to ethical, reasonable ad space which is why I don't tear ad pages out of magazines when they arrive. If news sites would run their ad infrastructure focused on presentment rather than tracking I would grant them an exception to my ad blocker. While they outsource ad space to adtech and use their platform as a method to execute arbitrary code on my computing devices the block stays up.

Podcast ads tend to be non-intrusive, are much harder to track and are non-executable. I listen to some very niche podcasts and am happy for the hosts to receive compensation for their creation, especially since it doesn't come at the expense of my privacy.

> I block ads on the web because web advertising networks proved that they had no respect for user privacy, lacked security controls around their ad delivery, and were targeting using data that they probably shouldn’t have had access to.

You may have this stance, but most people doesn't, even though your argument is the one that you hear the most, it's just that people that doesn't care about stealing content takes argument from all around to justify themselves.

I wish people would just avoid content that doesn't fit their criteria instead of just acting like we deserve that content for free. I got an auto playing video ads twice over Engadget and I stopped going there quickly after informing them about it.

I'm not sure if it's by design, but I find the majority of podcast adverts are 30 or 60 seconds. And audio players all have a "skip 30 seconds" button. I hop over the adverts, the podcast developer gets paid, everyone is happy except the person telling me I need something I don't need.

Podcast ads suffer from the same issue as most other ads, which is that they're primarily lies intended to manipulate your emotions and influence you to act in ways that are against your self interest.

You know, sometimes that's true, but sometimes they really do just communicate what a product is and why you might want it. There are a couple podcasts I listen to where the ads are almost uniformly worthwhile — for someone, if not for me. Podcasts with obstreperous or manipulative ads tend not to be worth listening to anyway; good podcasters value their audiences too much to insult them.

I agree with Jason completely

That is indeed an issue with advertising, but it's not the same issue as with most other ads; at least not the one most people object to, which is the privacy and security violations of comprehensive tracking of personal information delivered via exploitable, executable code.

I believe most people object ads because they find them annoying, people who worry about privacy and security as the main reason are a minority (maybe more expressive in HN, but not in the general population of ad block users).

Cool idea? Yes. Good idea? No.

If we do stuff like this, the podcast industry will switch to a closed system which would require you to install proprietary apps to listen to stuff. Likely several different apps for different shows and companies.

As it exists today, it's a very open system, with publicly accessible feeds and the ability to use any app. Don't ruin it. It's not hard to press the "skip forward 30 seconds" button when an ad starts playing.

Edit: also, it's super unethical to have a paid app that profits by taking away any scope for content creators to monetize. Leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

Didn't realise it was a paid app at first. Shame on you, OP.

I agree that this app is somewhat less than ethical and that folks should refrain from using or supporting it. It's one thing to block 3rd-party ads on the Web, which come with fairly severe privacy implications for the user and ruin their Web browsing experience - but none of this applies to ads which are simply part of an open audio podcast. If the industry shifts to proprietary players in order to enforce ads, this will mean more invasion of privacy, not less, and we will all lose.

Podcast ads have a much more insidious problem in that they perpetuate and encourage a disingenuous, lie-for-dollars[1] culture. Hearing podcasters gushing about products that just so happen to sponsor their podcast is exactly what advertisers are paying for -- that it's "genuine" and someone who you theoretically trust is pitching whatever they're selling -- and it's just incredibly greasy and distasteful. It is the lowest form of sponsorship.

When I see ads on the NYTimes I know they're just whoever paid for the space. It isn't the NYTimes claiming to have curated the best of the best and they're only showing you the greatest products and this just happens to be The Best pickup truck out there, etc. Eh.

[1] - Every podcaster is going to claim that no, it's really what they think, what a marvelous coincidence. It's amazing what someone will "think" when their paycheque relies upon it.

I was about to write a snarky, contradictory response to this, but I think you have a point.

When a normal ad comes on, it's outside of the "content" you're used to. A different voice, a different presentation style, a different part of the webpage, a different section of the newspaper.

When the content producer themselves is presenting the ad, however, you feel a bit more subconsciously inclined to trust them. IMO this is why YouTube ads have taken off so well.

Obviously I know that it's just an ad, but in the back of my head I'm paying more attention to it.

Not really non US listers especially in the UK find this super creepy

> Every podcaster is going to claim that no, it's really what they think, what a marvelous coincidence. It's amazing what someone will "think" when their paycheque relies upon it.

I think there's a lot of truth to this, but there are also plenty of podcasters who will literally try all the products themselves (or have some staff do so) and if the thing is no good, pick a different sponsor. The biggest shows are often in a position to do this without any real sacrifice, other than the time investment in testing: they have loads of sponsors knocking at their door that are all offering similar (large) amounts of money, so they're free to pick the one they honestly like.

Here, I feel like the gray area is that they're unlikely to have tried the alternatives to the product. So they'll give a ringing endorsement of Squarespace or Mailchimp or Purple mattresses, but all that shows is that it's probably decent stuff, not the actual highest-quality or best-price option for the listener.

Overall, though, I feel like it's practically a miracle that we have an online media industry that is free of the totally maxed-out creepiness of website advertising (tracking across media, profiling down to the individual level, etc.) And it's even making money. Just listen with a healthy skepticism about the ads. I think most people do.

"they have loads of sponsors knocking at their door that are all offering similar (large) amounts of money, so they're free to pick the one they honestly like."

I profoundly doubt this. It is a tiny set of sponsors who keep the entire podcast industry afloat, and remarkably every podcaster is just a great fan of that tiny set. It's transparent and profoundly disingenuous. It's an old school friend now bothering you to buy their MLM bullshit candles or knick knacks.

But again, I have absolutely no doubt that each and every one of those podcasters have convinced themselves that they thoroughly considered every option and this foam bed (indistinguishable from any other) at a huge premium, this fear-mongering VPN, this insurance option, this piece of luggage, etc, are all simply the best for their listeners. One would have to be profoundly gullible to actually believe that.

From an ethical perspective, if a podcast is doing this tactic they deserve every skip they get.

On the scale of scumbaggery, tracking ads that pitch to my profile are a world less vile than the current podcast pitch.

You're right, but is the solution to that an adblocker? Or should users simply follow the age old principle of "buyer beware"?

I'm all for adblockers on the web, due to their tracking nature, but podcast ads aren't served from some third party that eats up bandwidth, causes page jumps or autoplays video. They aren't even like Spotify ads, which seem to know when you've muted audio.

Is it really that taxing to fast forward through them?

I'm not speaking for or against this product. It's just remarkable how so many see the current podcast ad tactic as somehow wholesome or less obnoxious, when really it's a world worse. And then they'll claim that it doesn't affect them, caveat emptor, etc, which is simply bullshit -- if they've bought into it being wholesome and "valuable", they are in every way the mark. They are the reason advertisers love this gimmick in podcasts.

> if they've bought into it being wholesome and "valuable"

I don't know if that's a representative opinion. Ads are ads. Having the host read copy doesn't tell me anything about whether the product works for me.

There's a scene in Fight Club where Brad Pitt gestures at a bus stop men's underwear ad with a chiseled model on it and says dismissively "Is that what real men look like?"

Moments later, he is shirtless, with a perfectly chiseled body (that fitness trainers will tell you is impossible to keep year-round) fighting waiters and parking lot attendants.

The movie itself is an ad. It would never have sold well if two schlubby middle-aged actors had been cast to play it.

I agree completely. My favorite podcasts are crowd-funded with no ads, but the least-bad approach to ad reads is when someone reads a script, verbatim, in a bored monotone. Especially when it's not one of the hosts reading, but a producer whose voice you don't recognize and implicitly trust. But this is really rare.

Some podcast companies are inserting user targeted ads into the file.

At the point of download?


Stuff like this https://podads.podbean.com

When 37Signals found out their podcast host was doing listener tracking they dumped them and put out a podcast about it:


While those are your parameters for why ads are objectionable, they aren't universal, and concerns about privacy implications AND user experience both apply to ads in podcasts. Personally I don't mind listening to ads in podcasts, but I don't see the doomsday scenario here; plenty of podcasters already paywall episodes on Patreon. As with online publishing, the alternative to ads is the subscriber model.

I was going to play devils advocate until your edit of having the paid app (i didn't download it)

This is in essence no longer something that's just a cool idea and a nice novelty, it's why streaming companies and creators especially complain about losing revenue.. OP is taking what I would prefer to go to creators.

Agree. And it helps in general that podcast ads are largely inoffensive. I can't watch terrestrial television with its obnoxious commercials anymore. But I don't remember the last time a podcast advertisement annoyed me enough to even skip it.

Ditto. Podccast ads are pretty much ideal: non-tracking, generally non-intrusive, relevant to the audience, and in some cases quite entertaining (see: Reply All). Podcasters need to be able to keep the lights on, and the ads they run are about as consumer-friendly as they get.

> Agree. And it helps in general that podcast ads are largely inoffensive.

For me some podcast hosts are so ridiculously funny that I actually intentionally listen to their ad reads. There's been a time or two when I've gone back and re-listened to an ad because I was dying from laughter the whole time. Most of the time it's because the hosts are ripping on the advertiser a bit but it still seems like an amazingly good value for them. The only other time I'll ever do this is for Super Bowl ads, even though those are generally pretty lame. (Other hosts do just dryly read their ads with nothing ad-libbed -- or don't read ads for their own show at all (NPR) -- and I'll usually skip those when it's convenient.)

My problem with podcast ads is how repetitive they are. I'm at a point where I hate squarespace so much because nearly every podcast I listen to is sponsored by them. Same goes for Simplisafe and ZipRecruiter. It's extremely tiring and I would consider this app for automating skipping of ads because of this reason.

So its ethical to manually skip the ads but not to automate the process?

I don't believe GP was making a point about ethics, but rather one of economics. In general it's not smart to advertise this to people if you want to keep your podcasts free for as long as possible.

Podcasts and podcast advertisers know we can skip them, they accept this. If they see a lot of users skip ALL of them, it isn't okay.

Exactly. Because the podcaster is saying the script (normally), we may actually listen (pay attention) to it. That's what they hope for. If there isn't even a chance in hell that we would even START to hear it, then there's no more ad spending. Which means there's less content because not everyone can do the stuff for free at high quality.

Even if you skips 90% of a 90 second ad, the advertiser still has 9 seconds to get a pitch in. Sometimes in advertising, just reminding the users you exist is enough. If you hear "Dave's Pizza" twelve times before going to the grocery store, then you're much more likely to subconsciously grab one if you see them one in the freezer.

Podcast advertisers often fall into a category of product where name recognition is important. They are okay knowing that most of us skip the ads because they know the audience will hear the name before they have a chance to skip the ad.

I will say I do agree for the most part. I did try out square space for 2 months when I had a business idea. The idea was flawed to begin with... mainly because I came up with it when really drunk... but hey, I wasn't displeased with them (their ads are pretty honest) and I never would have tried them out if they didn't slap checks in a bunch of youtuber faces.

Actually... now that I think about it... I think I do respond better to podcast ads. There's 5 or 6 instances, this past year, that I checked out companies because of them. I've only done that once for a tv commercial in my lifetime and... I don't think I ever clicked on a banner ad before... on purpose. Never on purpose. Accident, yes.

I think it's because they're not, "OH MY SHIT LOOK AT ME! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!" types of ads.

Take this a step farther.

Advertisers care about conversions -- this is why promo codes exist. If podcast advertisers don't see a steady tick of users spending money via the promo codes they distribute, they'll stop advertising. The impressions are way less valuable than conversions are.

So is it unethical (or "un-strategic" if you prefer) to not buy from brands that are mentioned by your favorite podcaster? If people en-mass start making educated purchasing decisions and ignoring openly silly ads from WeWork or matress companies, is that harmful to the industry?

Advertising itself in its current state is harmful. People treat it like, "you listen for ads and you get the content for free." But no -- the ads manipulate you. If on average most people are not being manipulated, then the system doesn't work. The manipulation is the part that advertisers care about. It's not free. Objectively, if advertising was not manipulating your purchasing decisions in a non-optimal way, it would not be worth doing.

From that perspective, I'm more than happy to burn advertising to the ground, even if it means taking out a few podcasters.

You can also take the perspective that advertising is a zero-sum game where nobody wins and consumers aren't affected, but every business has to spend just to keep up with each other. In which case, I'm also happy to burn the industry to the ground to reduce pointless corporate waste and reduce the cost of entry for new businesses.

Some people would prefer not to listen to podcasts at all, if they had to listen to ads.

Then they can do that. It's pretty simple to do.

You just decide the transaction isn't worth it, and then not execute the transaction. I do it whenever I decide not to buy a Tesla.

Edit: meant to say I regularly don't buy a Tesla, not regularly do. College student, definitely couldn't afford one

Transaction? I asked for an MP3 and you sent it. Transaction over.

Exactly. And if you don't like what's in the MP3, you have the option of not listening to it.

... or just parts of it.

Your loss - I have found tons of interesting things that I would not have Mike Duncan's revolutions is just one.

No loss here. I listen to several podcast, but I usually skip the ads. If that was not possible, I would not listen to podcasts. Podcasts can be nice, but there is an abundance of people that want their voices heard.

How are they seeing that ads have been skipped? That seems like it would only happen if your player is spying on you.

That seems like it would only happen if your player is spying on you.

No. It works the same way any newspaper, radio, and TV advertising work.

If advertisers sponsor a podcast and get zero return, then the advertisers stops sponsoring the podcast and the podcast dies.

A world where all podcasts have lo-fi production values and only weirdos with too much time and a LOT of interest in the topic at hand make them would be wonderful. The audio version of the early web. They can have podcast web rings instead of ads!

The coupon codes or referral links being advertised will see a drop in traffic.

Is it ethical not to look at a billboard when you're walking down the street?

Is it ethical to mute the TV when commercials come up?

I think it's just your choice, right?

This wasn't meant to be a question of ethics, but one of incentives— let's view it from a standpoint of "will this ultimately be bad for society."

> Is it ethical not to look at a billboard when you're walking down the street?

This is fine, you're in a public space where somebody paid for an ad on nearby private property, and society wouldn't be worse off if everybody ignored billboards, advertisers were no longer willing to pay for billboards, and we got rid of the lot of them.

> Is it ethical to mute the TV when commercials come up?

This is fine, you paid for the TV and you pay for cable, and there will be no consequences to many people muting the TV during commercials.

If, however, you're given something for free that could be taken away, and it is able to be offered for free due to the business model of ads, taking this concept to its conclusion where everybody automatically skips over ads will make the free and open podcast system no longer viable.

Advertisers will no longer be willing to pay for ad space on podcasts, and the podcasters will have to move to charging per episode, or more likely, getting tiny royalties from a company like Spotify.

> This is fine, you paid for the TV and you pay for cable, and there will be no consequences to many people muting the TV during commercials.

The nature of advertising has turned the entire TV device into an advertising machine that phones home whether I mute and look away or watch "ad-supported" content, or paid-for content, or my own content. I cannot buy a TV that does not funnel my private life into someone's advertising budget thanks to Smart TVs and the normalization of surveillance capitalism.

If a podcast can not survive off its syndication, its advertising, its royalties, nor off its direct subscriptions, then the market has clearly spoken: that podcast is not providing value to listeners, and if it weren't subsidized as a channel by which advertising campaigns reach a desired market segment, it wouldn't exist at all. Clearly if this scenario causes you to shed tears, perhaps consider donating or subscribing, otherwise that podcast isn't a valuable product, it was a line item on an advertising campaign meant to reach you.

I believe this is false equivalency. I probably agree with the overall argument that it's not unethical, but in both examples you give you're not requesting someone's service in exchange for nothing. For TV, you're already paying for a service, so do what you will. For billboard's, you're literally getting nothing in return or asking to be bombarded by ads.

A better example would probably adblocking on either YouTube or any website. The service is otherwise free, and you're demanding it in some sense.

> For TV, you're already paying for a service, so do what you will.

There are still lots of people who watch ad supported TV broadcast over the air. So I think muting commercials or recording with a DVR and skipping over later is a decent analogy.

You're conflating things, imagine that billboard was not on the wall and instead it jumped in front of you on the way home.

Imagine the advertisement was not on TV but it was ringing your doorbell.

An option is ethical, one when you replace someone else's work is not. (i don't like advertisement thrown in my face either).

As much as I hate the clever marketing tactics that happen, I wouldn't want them to have one more excuse to invade me more.

This seems like one of them

it's ethical to not look at a billboard.

it's probably not ethical to vandalize a billboard so other people can't see the ad on it.

it's definitely not ethical to sell billboard vandalism as a service, or to patronize a service that does that.

Sure, because some percentage of the users will still listen to the ad, especially if it's the first time they're hearing it. Make it automated, that guarantees that no one is listening to it. Which would mean no revenue for the content creators. Which would lead to a really crappy system.

But advertisements in podcasts are commonly pre-recorded by the podcast host(s) - so the host would still be paid for the advertisement, before it goes online.

If the advertiser isn’t given any information about playback at ad time, then the revenue would not be affected.

That might work in the very short term.

It shouldn't take long for advertisers to realize that a) podcast listeners tend to skip over ads or b) podcast ads don't result in sales.

Unless it becomes widely known that a large share of the podcast listening audience uses apps that automatically skip the ads. That devalues the podcasts to advertisers.

If no users are listening to ads, then no one will purchase ads on the podcasts and the revenue for the creators will dry up.

Or they find alternative revenue streams such as:

a.) Patronage/donation model b.) Paywalls c.) Integrated the advertising into the program rather than making it a separate ad read

Not sure if you are suggesting that is good or bad. I see all those as bad. I don't like being guilted, paywalls just suck (also for the podcasters, they lose all their word of mouth), and blurring the lines between ads and content is awful

Well the question I don't see answered anywhere is how well this actually works. For some podcasts where the ad's are per-recorded and played across a couple different podcasts it seems the problem is pretty easy to solve.

OTOH, I've seen a number of youtube and podcasts where the Ads are read by the hosts as part of the show and are unique for each podcast. I heard one once recently where the host must have had 10 different versions of their travel ad, for the same place worded in slightly different ways. Maybe they were just ad'libing them. Either way, I have a hard time believing this can be easily detected. The flow and voice intonation was such that I didn't even realize it was an ad until 3/4 way through.

The app has a list of the dozen podcast it works with. It doesn't work with any other. That alone should tell you the app simply identifies some sort of jingle or pattern. Or these are the podcasts that OP is willing to manually tag as each episode is released.

I think some ads are sponsored links / promo codes. I am not sure in that situation if they get paid for reading the ad or only get commission from the sales.

Yes. The current system can't predict one way or the other if users are skipping the ads; if this app were to become widespread, it becomes known factually and advertising revenue dries up.

Advertising revenue should dry up.

The twist here is that he's make a profit from automating that process. It's not necessarily unethical, but it's morally dubious, at least.

I agree that making money by effectively making it harder for the original content creators to make money is not super ethical in my book and as such I'd refuse to use such an app.

That being said:

>If we do stuff like this, the podcast industry will switch to a closed system which would require you to install proprietary apps to listen to stuff. Likely several different apps for different shows and companies.

You can dismiss all adblockers that way. Except it's not really how it'll work: if people really make it inconvenient to access the content people will pirate instead. Podcasts are also generally small audio files which makes them super easy to share.

Instead I think that blocking ads (which, IMO, are a cancer for our society and I have no moral or ethical problem blocking everywhere) will incentivize podcasters to find alternative schemes to make money. For instance you could have a "Spotify for podcasts" that lets you watch podcasts ad-free with a subscription. There actually already are a few services for that (Stitcher comes to mind). I actually pay for a Stitcher subscription to listen to my podcasts ad-free.

I want to believe in a future version of the internet where everybody and their dog aren't spending their entire resources conning me into watching ads I don't want to see.

I believe users have the full right to filter content they listen to both manually (by skipping forward) and via automated means (by having a robot skip forward)[0].

The benefit of podcasts being an open system -- of them being raw MP3 files, is that users can manipulate and control the content they're being served. An open, ethical system that can only exist because users don't exercise their rights is of little value.

There are already segments of the industry that want to turn podcasting into a closed system (see Spotify), because as good as the current model is, it's still more profitable to turn podcasting into a top-down controlled system with gatekeepers. If business interests are currently what is keeping the ecosystem open, then I think we're doomed, because Netflix is always going to be the more profitable business model.

[0]: https://anewdigitalmanifesto.com/#right-to-filter

> I believe users have the full right to filter content they listen to both manually (by skipping forward) and via automated means (by having a robot skip forward).

Cool, let's automate away creators' ability to make money by giving away free content. Sure, podcasting will die and be replaced by closed, DRM-encumbered audio platforms, but then I'll just steal that same content. And really, isn't killing an open medium better than manually skipping ads a couple times an hour?

> by giving away free content

Ads aren't free.

Yes, it sort of stinks that we might have to come up with another way to fund podcasts. But we should come up with an alternate funding model anyway -- ads aren't ethical, and they're not free. The only reason anyone pays a podcaster to display ads is because statistically speaking, that recommendation is going to manipulate someone into buying that product regardless of its quality or relevance to that person's life.

If you listen to advertising but don't buy the advertised products, you're not supporting creators. Other people who buy those products are supporting creators, and they are subsidizing you. Your money is valuable, not your attention. Your purchasing decisions are valuable, not your ears.

So the idea that advertising is a completely neutral act that somehow magically gives us tons of content for free, without any knock-on effects towards society or business costs or acceptable content is one of the most widely-shared, pervasive misconceptions on the modern Internet. Ads are not magically making money appear from nowhere, ordinary people are indirectly paying for those ads by having their consuming habits altered against their will and without their permission.

It's better for us to just acknowledge that podcasting has a cost, and to just deal with that fact -- not to keep hiding behind the idea that there's a payment scheme out there that will somehow pay someone's salary without affecting anyone else in any way. Just directly support creators: it's healthier for the ecosystem, and it's healthier for you.

> And really, isn't killing an open medium better than manually skipping ads a couple times an hour?

An open medium that you're scared to manipulate is not an open medium. If we're all scared to attach metadata to an mp3 file, then who cares what format the file is in? Who cares whether or not a file has DRM if you're not willing to touch it?

Users have the right to exercise their rights. They also have the right to delegate those rights to other people and software products[0] -- ie, to have a piece of software exercise their filter rights on their behalf. Any world in which people aren't free to filter the content they consume is just another dystopia.

[0]: https://anewdigitalmanifesto.com/#right-to-delegate

By your own logic, podcasters would be releasing their own proprietary apps to prevent users from pressing the "skip forward 30 seconds" button when an ad starts playing. Why isn't that happening?

> Why isn't that happening?

Because most podcasters make no money and don't have the skills to write an app or service to do it for them.

Larger companies like NPR and BBC already do it.

OP's concern isn't about individual producers. It's about media and tech companies like Spotify and Stitcher gobbling up the market.

Because right now they're counting on the fact that some percentage of the listeners won't skip the ad, especially if it's the first time they're hearing it.

Make the ad-skipping automatic, then it's guaranteed that no one is listening to ads. (no ads == no revenue). This will completely ruin the system as it exists today.

Because nobody can prove people are skipping the ads. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, if you make an app that's sole purpose is that and it becomes massively popular then you know a huge chunk of the audience is skipping said ads...

No, what's going to happen is that this will kill independent podcasting and make it unsustainable to run a podcast without agreements with Spotify or Apple or someone.

We're already headed this direction. Apple is capturing usage statistics, NPR One Captures usage statistics, Spotify is absolutely capturing this information. Advertisers have gotten a taste for blood with all the data they've gotten from the web, and they want it for podcasts.

Breakdown the ethics violation you see happening here. The way I read your argument, Podcast apps have an ethical obligation to ensure users can't easily should the ads.

And NPR was also all gung-ho about adding a whole tracking API into podcasts https://www.npr.org/sections/npr-extra/2018/12/11/675250553/...

But no major podcast apps have implemented it (because why the hell would they?)

Ok. It seems to be nearly unanimous here that as clever as this app is, it’s on a fast track to a tragedy-of-the-commons situation in podcasting.

Allow me to propose a pivot.

Most listeners know in the first few seconds whether an ad falls into the “hey, that actually sounds interesting” category or the “no, I still don’t need a Squarespace/Casper/Mailchimp” category. Take a page from YouTube and play the first 3-5 seconds of the ad, and then give the user a big skip button that skips the entire ad segment.

Your app will still have the USP of a better experience than jumping back and forward in 15-30 second increments, and it preserves the ad-supported model with a proven UX pattern validated by one of the biggest advertising platforms in the world. You could even form partnerships with podcast networks who want insight into what ads get skipped and which get played for longer.

This HN post brought to you by mortenjorck product consulting.

> play the first 3-5 seconds of the ad, and then give the user a big skip button

There is another medium which has a similar interaction model, and most people seem to really dislike those, i.e. in-game cut scenes with surprise quicktime events.

Anecdotally, I listen to a podcast where they make money off merch and Patreon only. No need for advertising.

I on the other hand have no interest in buying a $30 t-shirt emblazoned with a garish podcast logo, that was manufactured in a sweatshop for $0.50.

Let them read all the NordVPN and Dollar Shave Club ads they want. I'd rather put up with that than the wastage that goes into production of merch and swag.

How do you know about the merch or Patreon? Do they not even tell you about it?

Because if they do, that's an ad.

There's a huge difference between being asked to support the people making something you enjoy and allowing totally unrelated and reactionary monied interests access to my attention. The latter can talk to the hand because I don't wanna hear about it.

To each their own, but I personally would rather have someone saying "here's some cool power tools / skateboard equipment / digital pianos you might be interested in buying" than "don't you feel terrible for not sending us money for this thing you can get for free?"

I don't like being guilted, I really don't. But I understand that some feel differently.

It's bad either way, only adequate public funding for arts and media can resolves some of these problems.

I agree with you...I have long been saying that intellectual property (and that includes software) is going to either be subject to artificial scarcity (to me, the biggest evil * ), or horrible funding models like advertising.

Public funding makes a ton of sense, personally I think it is the only economically efficient solution, but doing it well is hard. I scanned your history here to see a bit more on where you are coming from (I agree with you on a lot of things), and I see that this is something you talk about a lot.

I notice you say elsewhere "the enemy is the state". That makes it tricky to say "the state should decide what stuff gets funded." I always tend to be up against that whenever I suggest that state funded IP makes sense. I still believe there is a way.

I have more thoughts on how we could actually move toward such things, my contact info is in my profile, feel free to email.

* see chapter 25 of the Grapes of Wrath for a beautifully written essay on the evils of artificial scarcity: https://genius.com/John-steinbeck-grapes-of-wrath-chapter-25...

If users aren't willing to support a podcast then that's a big signal as to what the value of that podcast is.

When I look at the list of podcasts I subscribe to there aren't really any that I would miss terribly if they decided to stop. I have too many options when I want to listen to something.

That only works for podcasts with big, dedicated audiences.

same with ads.

How is this different than, say, Brave blocking in-flow YouTube ads? Minus the fact that this one is a paid app.

It doesn't have to be different. They can both be a bad idea.

It's not different. Brave's business model of inserting themselves as a middleman and charging a ransom is awfully unethical.

jaywalk 49 days ago [flagged]

You sound like you work for Google.

There's seriously no need for a personal attack.

They did.

That's correct.

I really hate ads. I skip or block all of them as much as possible. If i can automate that, i will. It is the main reason i do not use regular magazines, tv and radio.

You are the perfect user for AdSkipPro :)

You could say the same thing about adblockers in general. It's unfortunately pushed more content creators to put up paywalls and move to subscription-based models.

The smart thing to do with apps like this is to keep it to yourself, but inevitably someone will release one for the masses.

Yeah, but ads on the web have lots of issues like tracking and malicious code injection, so blocking them makes total sense.

A lot fewer people would be using ad blockers in browsers if web ads were as simple as podcast ads (the equivalent would be unobtrusive static images with links) .

> (the equivalent would be unobtrusive static images with links)

You could also have dynamic images thank to GIFs. Just think of the possibilities that would be enabled by that - "Hit the monkey!", "Shoot the gangster!" - An incredibly effective way to drive engagement.

While I agree that it's a little sketchy to profit from this, the basic idea seems completely fine to me.

Practically, what is different about manually skipping every single ad (which I - and presumably other people who might consider a skipping feature useful - currently do) versus automatically skipping them? It seems to me the only difference is that automatic skipping frees me from a minor annoyance.

That's Luminary's business model, as far as I can tell.

Yeah. I'm glad they haven't taken off much. I love how open the podcast system is. I'd absolutely hate for it to be ruined.

I'm not actually against paid-for podcasts, but hiving it off into a separate app does not appeal.

How would you deliver paid-for podcasts otherwise? You could put them behind an RSS feed with a ?passcode maybe? Not sure.

That's basically how most Patreon supported podcasters do it - a private feed.

It's an open system because the numerous and ongoing attempts to make it a closed system have been unsuccessful because users don't like that. Spotify and Stitcher are the most recent attempts to secure tons of exclusive content behind an app gate or a paywall.

Even if this app is successful beyond OP's wildest dreams it's going to take 1% of the market or whatever -- the idea that this is going to cause a sudden shift in business strategy, and that that shift will be in favour of proprietary apps in a way that people aren't trying now, beggars belief.


Can you elaborate please? Apple's own Podcasts app lets you skip the ads with a button. This app does it automatically.

Meh, I'll keep blocking ads everywhere I go and ignoring them otherwise. If they can't be ignored, I just don't consume the content.

Skipping a portion is equal to redacting the part of a landscape image with a billboard in it.

Furthermore, the digital medium is inherently copyable and malleable. If you want to distribute content via this medium, you need to accept that. Sure, make it harder if you please.

> Edit: also, it's super unethical to have a paid app that profits by taking away any scope for content creators to monetize. Leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

Absurd. Software's whole deal is wrecking people's jobs to save someone else money or make their lives easier. This time it's ad-supported mp3 makers instead of any of the tons and tons of other people who've been tossed around by software. Often this does suck but to single out helping people avoid ads as the one thing you must not charge for is silly.

This is why we can't have nice things. Podcasts rely on advertising for revenue, and given the static nature of pre-recorded ads, they are the least intrusive in this era of AI driven hyper real-time ad-targeting. Reminiscent of print ads on newspapers.

So respect the effort of the creator and stop automating ad skipping. Heck, I even implore you to listen to the ads that make your favorite shows available for free, but you always have the skip-ahead button in your player

NPR inserts targeted ads when you download an episode.

Isn't it only geo-based though? Of the IP you are downloading from? Fine. Do that. That is still very unobtrusive

It isn't clear exactly what they are doing nor have they said what their plans are.

I think NPR bought Pocket Casts and I doubt they spent all that money with no plans for a return on that investment.

I fear more and more podcasts are going to start locking you into a podcast app.

It's turning into the video streaming scene

> I fear more and more podcasts are going to start locking you into a podcast app.

Any podcast app can play any podcast, full stop. Podcasting is a simple and open medium.

Creators can make their shows available on closed platforms as well as distributing them as podcasts. When closed platforms become the only option for creator monetization, podcasting dies.

I think that's exactly what some of these companies think they are building - Netflix for podcasts. Unfortunately for them, there isn't a lot of value in podcasts for most people and I can't see that changing.

Exactly. My limit is $5/month and a lot of smaller podcasters seem to agree that it is an adequate amount for bonus content/no ads.

Hell, I know a few that for $1 or $2 they get the full ad-free podcast

Would you say the same thing to every other podcast app company (including Apple) and tell them to remove the 30 second forward button?

A skip button requires user intent, your entire value-add is automating that out.

Frankly, I would say that you are a hypocrite.

1. You charge $1.99 for an app that strips revenue streams off content creators, while simultaneously expecting people to pay you for your work. The equivalent would be someone simply taking your impending Android apk, cleaning out the part where you get paid and putting it up for free download. a.k.a piracy

2. Your TOS [1] is a draconian piece of work, implying that the mere act of linking to your site requires your permission (which is obviously inaccurate). However, you have the gall to strip parts of someone else's content in an automated fashion? I'm certain you are violating ToS of podcast creators by doing what you do, and I hope they hold you accountable

Even the list of podcasts you currently support (like ones from NPR) are publicly funded, universally acclaimed and mostly ethical in their labeling of ads. You are not a net benefit to the ecosystem

[1]: https://adskippro.com/terms.html

It's my device, what I do is none of their business. I do not want to be advertised to, period.

Thank you!

A good percentage of the ad-supported podcasts I listen to also have an ad-free feed for their Patreon subscribers. I'd say look there first if you're looking to spend money to avoid ads.

We messed this up 20 years ago when online print media tried doing the same, and the result has been an endless and wasteful arms race. Let's not mess this up again.

The arms race is inevitable. Podcast companies haven't been receiving investments because of that sweet SquareSpace money. They want to track everything there is about how a podcast is listened to and by whom and then monetize that every way they can.

Right now, they're a long way from doing sophisiticated tracking. My podcast app just downloads an mp3 file from a feed; it's not executing any JavaScript, or otherwise doing anything they can use to do the kind of tracking that happens on the Web.

That regime has been stable for decades, and I can't imagine it will change unless something changes to make it stop working for podcasters. Because moving their distribution channel from RSS to some sort of closed app risks alienating their audience.

Some of the big podcast apps have recently been sold and it only makes sense that they plan on adding telemetry.

The MP3 file might not change, but there's a chance that they are going to start watching you play it.

A lot of investments have been made in the podcast world recently and VCs usually don't make things better.

I'm going to have to agree with this is not a "good" idea. ~95% of podcasters are just small team folks. They make a bit of money on the side with it or just barely make enough to do it full time. I've always been willing to listen to the ads done by creators on both youtube (Not the yt ads, the ones creators do little skits or do a speech that benefits them directly) and podcasts. It supports the content and most of the money goes to create more stuff I actually like to watch/listen to.

Cool project, interesting decision to monetize something like this though.

I made SponsorBlock (https://sponsor.ajay.app/), which is a similar premise for YouTube videos except free, open source, and with a publicly downloadable database. I posted about it on HN back in August.

I'd be curious if you'd be willing to do what I've done here and make it more open. When you are dealing with things like this (ad blocking), it gives you more of a responsibility to share.

Anyway, how do you do this? Is it a reporting system? Or is there some kind of algorithm you made?

Hey dude just wanted to say your extension makes my YouTube experience hugely more enjoyable

It's not a reporting system. I believe that idea has been tried and did not work. This uses all-new technology to find the ads and skip over.

By just looking for the music that plays at the beginning of some ads?

That's probably it. Their vague terms make me suspicious.


I mean, I am using it and it is working :)

But yea, it's good that you made your own idea instead.

I came here to judge - but if there's no way of paying for the adverts to go away (stitcher? maybe spotify (I pay, but don't use it for podcasts)) I have sympathy.

Skeptoid did offer a nice/hacky/old-school solution likely to work with your favourite player - subscribe manually with ~ http://<username>:<password>@<site.com/ad_free_url/>podcasts...

Providing your player lets you put in a URL - it "works" and doesn't require you switching your client.

I do wish there was a slightly more formalized process letting you provide credentials to your app and it sorting this all out for you - but then I'm reluctant to engage in a movement that might f'up the XML+MP3 standards approach that's allowed podcasts to flourish.

> I do wish there was a slightly more formalized process letting you provide credentials to your app and it sorting this all out for you

There is. The app I use, AntennaPod, allows you to specify a username and password for each podcast feed, and iirc, it uses those for good ol' HTTP authentication.

This is quite common - many podcast apps, if not the very biggest ones, support feed importing and those feeds can include a username and password. It's really not that complicated, it just looks like a long URL and in most cases you can click on it in an email or website on your phone, and add it directly to the podcast app from there.

The hard part at the moment is the friction from your podcast app to paying to "unlock" that feed to importing it back to your podcast app. Some of us are working on a standard called PodPass (https://www.niemanlab.org/2019/08/podpass-wants-to-build-the...) to make it seamless, but without the walled gardens.

Yep - that's the vague amorphous idea I had rattling around my head, just described by somebody who knows what they're doing.

As stated - it's getting the initial adoption going that's problematic. Probably pointing out the obvious, but NPR bought my favourite client Pocket Casts. At naive glance, looks like a good fit. NPR already has an excellent group of people who've donated (so whole bunch of people paying already) and with this would give them a way of rewarding them with the adverts removed. Plus think both sides of this would be advocates for still allowing the output to be available widely, and not walled up somewhere.

As a podcaster (Mixergy.com), I love this.

My listeners should never feel guilty about skipping ads.

If my ads aren't interesting or don't improve your life, you owe it to yourself to skip.

I keep working to improve my ads. Most recently: I hired a copywriter (Neville Medhora) to go over my ad reads. And today I recorded interviews with 10-second ads, instead of 3-minute ones.

If your listeners use this app they won't know whether the ads are interesting.

But Andrew, they don't care if you put effort in to curate ads that your listeners might find valuable, they just want to skip the ads regardless.

They want you to keep working your tail off, and entertaining them for free - they are apparently entitled to it.

If you read off your own ads live rather than playing recordings, there’s a good chance this app wouldn’t be able to differentiate them from your content in order to skip them automatically.

I’d also expect listeners to be much less likely to mind, since it would be such a nicer experience than the norm.

How did you find your copywriter? Just curious.

Pure curiosity, is this based off of Adblock Radio?


I've been curious for a while how hard it would be to proxy my podcast feeds through a local server that stripped ads. As far as I can tell, this stuff has to be done dynamically per-file -- sharing timestamps don't work because ads are dynamically injected during each download.

It's not using Adblock Radio, though that is an interesting idea. All new technology.

Creator of Adblock Radio here. If some day you are able to share your approach to filter ads, especially native ones, I would greatly appreciate it.

Their homepage shows you the few podcasts they support which suggests some sort of manual pattern recognition per channel. It's clearly not a general solution like adblockradio.

Yeah, looking at the list I know 99pi and Reply-all play special music at the beginning of their ads.

I find it interesting that their terms of use attempts to place restrictions on linking to their homepage: https://adskippro.com/terms.html

I also find it interesting that this is in the terms, when their app is $1.99:

> To the extent that the app and the information and services on the app are provided free of charge, we will not be liable for any loss or damage of any nature.

My guess is that they're using a boilerplate ToS, as the app looks relatively new.

It's a bit mad to put up a ToS that your users are nominally expected to follow when you clearly haven't read it yourself...

It's boilerplate - I'll update it.

I was thinking about making exactly this today while listening to 99PI. Decided that I would rather support the makers. I wish that the various apps allowed subscriptions to avoid ads in a given podcast. 99PI is doing a fundraising drive right now. As part of it, they share that 1/10,000 listeners donates. I would be happy to pay 99PI $1 a month for their podcasts if I could skip ads.

If the advertisers can't tell if you're using this app or a traditional podcast app, are you really supporting the makers any less by using this app? The advertisers won't pay them any less because they won't be able to know that x% of users didn't hear the ad.

️ Good question. I see it as a moral/ethical line more than a technical one.

Who says they can't? The user agent used to download the podcast is a pretty strong signal, and it seems reasonable for podcasters to expose this data if it means higher bids on ads.

The user agent string has mostly been used to lie about the source of a request: https://webaim.org/blog/user-agent-string-history/

Seems like ad skipping players should identify exactly as non-ad skipping players, then.

That's how we're going to end up with tracking in podcasts :(

This is why I like supporting podcasts on Patreon. They get money each month (yes, Patreon takes a cut), but when you subscribe you get a normal podcast URL you can use in any client.

I wish more would do that.

So get the free content without giving the content provider money or any opportunity to monetize via ads ? And expect that they will give quality content forever ?

I would rather be able to get paid content without giving the content provider money or any opportunity to monetize via ads, but that doesn't seem to be an option.

I think this works in idea but not sustainable for provider. May be if there is a way to get both...choose free or pay for add free.

Some of the major podcasters tried going paid route and reversed back to ad based model. i.e. tim ferriss

It has just about the ridiculous ToS I've ever seen, including stating that you can't post links to it! https://adskippro.com/terms.html

I thought it was funny that an unethical app even has a ToS in the first place. Like the guy robbing my house telling me I can’t pick his pocket.

I'm still shocked that Google has not made a podcast platform wherein they manage the ads and subscriptions. Host the audio, inject ads at the breaks, allow paid subscriptions that remove the ads, have a monthly payment option, etc. Basically half YouTube half Audible.

I do listen to one podcast that has an ad-free feed for patreon supporters. It works rather well and they have add a surprising amount of bonus content for subscribers.

How is the ad-free feed hosted? I'd love for this to be a widespread thing, but I listen to podcasts almost entirely during long drives, so I worry that paid content will fragment distribution.


You get a unique RSS feed for the commercial free episodes and bonus content.

I don't trust Google to make a product of that quality or usefulness.

They already had a superior product to competition, in my opinion: Google Play Music, better than Spotify. Better UI, didn't crash, better app, more reliable casting, etc. But they're closing it and making you switch to Youtube Music. Under the hood, they won't register new agencies for submitting to Google Play Music. Current ones can so you'll still see new music, but the point is they're pushing everyone to probably the worst music playing app I've ever seen in my life.

So, if they were going to do it, they'd do it on Youtube Music, but that app is hot garbage, so, don't expect too high.


Personally, I'm OK with ads in podcasts. They are based on the general audience for the show and doesn't have any intrusive tracking or personalization.

If I'm really tired of the ad I can just skip ahead 30 seconds.

You want me to pay $1.99 for an app I can’t try, which doesn’t have any other features that other podcast player apps have, and also prohibit linking to your product anywhere in your ToS? It’s a very shady beginning, to say the least.

Can't wait for old-timey radio product placement in my podcasts.

"The party enters the wizard's keep. It smells fresh and clean, like it was recently cleaned with Febreeze, which the wizard uses for all his odor-destroying needs."

You're getting a lot of hate for it but congrats on the release. Can you comment on how you are identifying ad content?

Doubtful. I'm interested in that as well.

If I were making it, I would listen for keywords (ex: Cash App, Onit, MyBookie.com, Manscaping, Dollar Shave Club) that could be updated like an AdBlock filter list. Combine that with obvious changes in inflection, notable differences in the waveform, etc.

I would also assume my implementation would cut the podcast down to about 4 minutes with all the false positives.

I see it as a meaningful discussion, not necessarily hate, but I see your point! I can't tell how it works, just that it is pretty cool!

I think people are making too big a deal out of this.

Popular podcasters do make money through Patreon for example, not everything comes down to advertising.

And for frank, honest commentary, I think I would rather not have advertiser influence over podcasts, just like the news.

And many people do podcasts just out of passion or a hobby...they are more like blogs than anything else.


I am not a huge podcast listener, but I understand some of the most supported people on Patreon are podcasters. I also use Patreon, however I support YouTubers as I find videos much more engaging than podcasts. So in general yes, I am willing to pay creators through platforms like Patreon, as I guess millions of people are.

To the people saying this is morally wrong, let me give you a different perspective: I watch a lot of YouTube videos and they are ad-supported (although I do support them on Patreon whenever possible). The ads are for the likes of SquareSpace, Skillshare, etc (there's also lots of shit like VPN providers but let's focus on the good ones first).

I'm already aware of these brands, I even recommend one of them to clients. At this point, the ads aren't telling me anything new, don't make me aware of a new product, they are just annoying and waste my time.

Is it still wrong to block these ads?

As I've said elsewhere in the thread, it's okay to manually skip ads, because some percentage of the users will still listen to the ad, especially if it's the first time they're hearing it.

If you implement automatic ad blockers, that guarantees that no one is listening to the ad. Which would mean no revenue for the content creators. Which would lead to a really crappy system.

It would be interesting if a service existed where you could mark ads as "watched" to stop seeing them anymore. On the other hand, advertisers seem to believe they need to keep advertising to consumers who already know their products. Coke spends something like $5 billion/year on ads despite probably being the most recognized company on the planet.

The best way to skip ads in podcasts is to not listen to the podcasts if you don't like the ads. Or, you know, pay the creators.

OK, but do you read every ad on every web page you visit?

Consciously? No. Subconsciously I probably scan them as I look around the page which can trigger further investigation.

Did you pay full attention to every ad you listened to in a podcast? I don't even know what your point is.

Full disclosure, I use ad blockers online (but whitelist sites and subscribe to others). The reason I do so is first and foremost for security reasons. Ad networks deliver malware, despite their best efforts. They also deliver battery-draining ads and bloat. I'm not inherently opposed to advertising, however. Last I checked, listening to ads in podcasts is not going to give your phone malware or spin up your CPU 100% so I don't really see the point of blocking them. As far as advertising goes, podcast ads are pretty benign. Sure, you can do it and I'm not even going to call you a bad person, but it just seems like the wrong battle to be fighting.

Either it never takes off and the whole thing is moot, or it really takes off and forces podcast creators to monetize in ways that are less benign. No real gain.

Ads are terrible regardless of whether they are “nice, inoffensive privacy protecting ads” or “unethical spyware web ad network ads”.

This is a great tool and saves people their only truly nonrenewable resource: time.

Thank you for making it; if I listened to any of these podcasts I would be using it.

Always block everyone’s ads.

Thank you. Which podcasts do you listen to?

The Bunker New York


Mysteries of The Deep


The latter is even in alac-m4a lossless, something that surprised and delighted me.

One is run by a friend and the other is run by a friend of friends. They’re both truly excellent.

Neither have ads.

If you value your podcasters' livelihoods, don't tell him.

Seems odd...

Most podcasts are pretty grassroots without financial backing, I think.

I don't really mind the ads, and most podcasts apps seem to have skip buttons anyway. I mostly use the iOS podcast app, but it has a 30 second skip button. That usually gets me right past the ads.

Amazing! Was meaning to build something like this for a while, glad you beat me to it! Re: monetization/ethics/etc -- would 100% support podcasts that follow the Brave model with opt-in for ads or pay if you want ad-free experience.

I agree - thank you!

Just realized this is iOS-only. Any chance you've built this on react-native (which will make it trivial to port to Android)?

Not react-native, and the port to Android will not be trivial.

So how does it really do the skipping feature? Do you transcribe the podcast and look for standard advertising copy for companies like Squarespace, hello fresh, etc? Would it register a false positive if one of those company names is said?

Most podcasts, have a particular jingle/tune that plays before/during the ad, which should not be difficult to identify with some clever code.

But honestly manual flagging wouldn't be too hard either.

Well, I couldn't tell because I wouldn't want to create competitors! I don't think it will ever register a false positive. It's really that good.

I was thinking something like this should exist, but podcasts should be paid for skipped ads. I don’t mind paying a small fee for ad free podcasts.

I also want some system that fast forwards all the intro stuff straight to the meat and potatoes.

I think you can do that with Pocketcast (free on android, paid on the web) and set a unique time for each podcast.

Founder here:

I think that many people already skip the ads using the 30 second skip forward button. I know I did before building this app.

I'm also thinking about safety -- people driving their car and reaching for their phone to skip the ads.

The biggest issue here for me is that you're charging for this app. You're basically asking me to pay you for your hard work of removing ads from someone else's hard work of creating content.

It's not removing the ads. The ads are still in there. It skips over them. I think that many people are already pressing the 30 second forward button to skip. This app skips for you automatically, at exactly the right place. It saves the user from having to do it manually.

It's an automation tool, and I would argue you were clever to do it that way because later maintenance is easier, but because of that... The real question is: Why are you charging for this ?

It really would have been an attractive project to play with. But it looks like you just wanted a 'snatch and grab'.

Again, well done: You did the work but I wont be participating.

They made an LLC

You're welcome to pay someone else making the content, aren't you? And then throw this developer another $1.99 so that the other creator doesn't have to put in more hard work to make a special ad-free stream for you.

I would happily pay some of the non spotify / subscription based podcasts I enjoy, infact I do through patreon etc.

If the content provider offers it, and I want to give it, cool.

But paying for this, has nothing to do with the provider.. At all actually. All money goes to someone who filtered out Adverts, if you wanna have a better argument you could say : can't anyone do this: And yes, but its the time and effort that goes into it, maybe release it open source and free so others can build a network of methods to remove more ads and even support the content provider without them needing to invest in a 'special ad-free' streaming service.

Nobody is telling you not to use this, just their own reasons for not.

If it was free, you would be fine with it?

Pretty much, yeah. While obviously not nearly as severe, I view this basically as war profiteering. Consumers are waged in battle against a broken industry and you're offering some help, but only for a cost.

I would. As is, it seems pretty immoral.

This is a massive stretch - anyone who hates adverts enough to risk crashing a car shouldn't be driving one. They're annoying - but this is childish behaviour.

Honest question: were you expecting this backlash - I would assume you wouldn't have used a throwaway account otherwise.

I don't view it as backlash. It's interesting and necessary conversation. I want to hear what the HN community thinks.

Podcast ads are a dream compared to the web - this will damage that if your product is even half successful.

If the same was done for TV on a mass scale then you'd sure as shit see invasive DRM in TVs ready to stop you from altering the stream during an ad break.

Come on, safety is a huge stretch. You built this because you want to profit off of other peoples' work.

"safety is a huge stretch" : Millions of people listen to podcasts while driving. It's probably the most common time to listen. People skip the ads. Are you sure that's a stretch?

An ad-supported internet is not an open internet. It is an internet of content that caters to the sponsors with the deepest pockets, for fear of losing their attention.

Would you mind sharing what approach did you use to trim the ads? Did you manually detect the ads and then trimmed the file or are you using an automatic (perhaps ML-based) approach?

The only thing I can share is that it does not modify or trim the podcast.

It downloads the podcast, finds the ads, plays it, and skips over the ads. The ads are still in there. After it skips the ads, you could manually skip backwards and hear that they are still there.

This submission is _advertising_ a paid app to... skip ads.

Question for OP: how would you feel about a browser extension that automatically recognises submissions of this nature and hides them?

HN Rules: "Show HN is for something you've made that other people can play with. HN users can try it out, give you feedback, and ask questions in the thread."

I thought the whole purpose of Show HN is to show what you've created. Should there be restrictions on the types of things being created?

In your example, I think the browser extension would hide every submission on Show HN.

Very cool idea, I'm curious about how this was built and works.

I'm also curious if you think you'll face any challenges or if Apple will allow this to live on the play store?

I can't tell how it works, because I don't want to create competitors.

I don't see why Apple would have a problem with it. Their own "Podcasts" app lets you skip ads. This app finds the ads and skips automatically.

Lmao, because you are draining their platform's content creators of value?

Podcasters should probably provide ad-less versions of podcasts for subscribing users, e.g. using Coil or similar extension for monetization.

Edit your title : "I built and app that skips over other peoples add and puts mine in"

Perhaps you misunderstood what the app does?

I'm really happy you respond to the harsh criticism given, but do you think its cool to say : "Hey, no adds in this paid app........ But the money doesn't go to the guy who made the content"

I get why you might have done it, hey a nice adblock feature. But you are asking for money for it.. Did I miss something ?

So how do creators block this app, since those users are literally worthless to them?

I think this is wrong morally.

I intrigued at how uniformly negative the reaction is to this. Do people here not use things like AdBlock? Do you also avoid fast-forwarding over ads in videos for the same reason?

I think it is that they are charging money.

Seems like a weird place to draw the ethical line.

Almost every adblocker out there is free and open source for a reason.

Some people just want to watch the world burn.

The big picture is that podcasts are economically public goods (non-rivalrous, non-exclusive), or at least would be completely if not for copyright restrictions legally.

Ads detract from the value. In other words, as a resource, ad-laden podcasts are worse than ad-free podcasts.

If you ask people to pay to access the ad-free versions, that's a "club good" (non-rivalrous but now exclusive). That also dramatically reduces the value to the world. (Also, the existence of ad-laden ones is a detraction itself, even affecting the ad-free versions because ads create conflicts-of-interest).

So, all the economics here is about about the public goods dilemma. How the heck can fund the work without all these detractions? Taxes? I'm not saying the answer is easy, I'm saying we should get the question right.

The one view I reject: that somehow ads in podcasts are a good thing. Rather, ads are an unfortunate compromise given the challenges of funding public goods. There's little room for debate there.

What is called for is specifically funding models that somehow coordinate critical mass of people without the use of paywalls or detractions like ads.

typo: under supported podcasts, heavyweight is listed twice.

This is simple fraud.


You wouldn't download a car.

But plenty of people would download a mobile app that would unlock someone else's car for a free joyride.


well that would be illegal... there is nothing illegal about me seeking past a portion of my podcast or taking out my headphones for X amount of seconds.

> seeking past a portion, taking out my headphones

That's not what this app does.

According to the landing page, that is exactly what it does.

"When AdSkipPro gets to the ads that were found above, it skips over and keeps on playing. The ads are still in there, and in fact you can go back and hear them if you like. This example shows AdSkipPro jumping from 23:49 to 25:09, past several ads:"


There's a difference between you manually skipping the ad and the app automatically skipping the ad.

Yes, one is much nicer, as I can achieve it with no ongoing effort without being so rich I can afford to pay someone else to do it for me. When tech lets me preserve my time and attention in exchange for little or no money, while doing the same without it would only be feasible for the very rich, is when it makes me the happiest.

Try sitting on your hand before seeking past podcast ads next time. It makes it feel like someone else is exploiting them instead of you.

Oh boy we’re exploiting people by not listening to parts of the mp3s they gave us now? This gets more exciting by the minute, do continue.

That is an interesting angle, but I can't see the similarity. Podcasts are open and freely available to download. People are already skipping the ads with a 30 second forward button. This app skips automatically.


You lost me there. Hoping to have sincere discussions here.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact