Brief description of the plunge:

Amazon Music has acquired podcast distribution and monetization platform Art19, according to a statement on the company’s website. The Verge was the first to hear about it.

Founded in 2015, Art19 offers a platform through which customers can manage both content and advertising operations in one place. The dashboards track listener interactions with campaigns in real time, measuring impressions and downloads based on standards certified by the IAB Tech Lab. The company also has an Ad Creative Studio to help with creative strategy and production.

Art19 places premium read-aloud ads on such programs as the “Late Night with Seth Meyers” podcast, Bravo TV’s “The Daily Dish” podcast and “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” audio inserts and “Doug Loves Movies,” among others. Amazon‘s acquisition of this company shows that it has big ambitions for audio advertising, as competitors such as Spotify and Facebook are pushing the gas on similar initiatives.

Dive Insight:

Amazon is trying to supplement its podcast advertising package with the acquisition of Art19 as the audio advertising category as a whole becomes increasingly competitive. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Art19 focuses on helping partners distribute their content, target ads more accurately and manage campaigns in real time to optimize efficiency. The company’s WarpFeed tool tracks whether listeners are downloading an old episode of the program and inserts current messages. Art19’s goal is to bring the same level of granular marketing opportunity to the podcast space as it does to digital, being at the intersection of publishers and advertisers, according to the company’s website.

With this acquisition, Amazon continues to ramp up its podcast deals in an attempt to close the gap in an area where it is a relative latron. Late last year, the e-commerce giant bought Wondery, the podcast network responsible for such popular shows as “Dirty John.” The deal, reportedly worth more than $300 million, was aimed at getting more exclusive premium content after Amazon Music introduced a podcast section in September.

Amazon’s actions mirror those of rival Spotify, which is also looking to diversify revenues with audio advertising beyond music streaming. Spotify has acquired numerous podcasting companies in recent years, including publishers Gimlet, The Ringer and Parcast, as well as production studio Anchor and audio advertising company Megaphone. Last week, the company acquired Podz, a startup that uses machine learning to improve podcast search efficiency.

In February, Spotify also unveiled an audio advertising marketplace called the Spotify Audience Network, which aims to simplify the process of running campaigns on its platforms. At the same time, the company is integrating podcast listening tools into Facebook, which could expand the reach of its programs and help it make better use of its existing fan communities.

Some analysts remain skeptical about whether podcasts will play to Spotify’s advantage, despite a growing number of bets. Amazon, on the other hand, doesn’t really need podcasts to thrive, and may instead see the category as a way to further strengthen its thriving digital advertising business. In the first quarter of 2021, Amazon’s “other” revenue segment, which includes ad sales, grew 77% year over year to $6.91 billion.

According to a recent analysis by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers, podcast advertising revenue grew 19% year over year to $842 million in 2020, with a 37% increase in the fourth quarter. The category as a whole is expected to exceed $2 billion in revenue by 2023, the companies believe.

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