Podcast boom in Serial's wake sees Acast record $5m funding

The podcast hosting platform Acast has raised $5m from Swedish firm Bonnier Growth Media

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The Independent Online

Podcast hosting platform Acast has raised $5m from Swedish firm Bonnier Growth Media and extra funds from existing investor Moor to expand in Europe and the US.

The Swedish platform – led in the UK by former Spotify executive Ross Adams – aims to capitalise on the resurgence of the medium by enhancing podcasts with videos, links and images while they play on smartphones.

Digital publishers had previously shunned podcasting, after struggling to find ways to attract advertisers. However, Acast’s software allows targeted ads based on the niche audiences – from basketball fans to etymology enthusiasts – that podcasts attract to be easily inserted.

Many podcasts also include ads read out by the host which give them editorial advocacy that is attractive to brands but Acast argues that its model is more effective.

Podcasts had their initial boom a decade ago when the likes of Ricky Gervais popularised the medium. However, a resurgence led by the global frenzy around true crime podcast Serial has led to a host of podcasts including interview show Distraction Pieces, hosted by rapper Scroobius Pip becoming sought after. 

Måns Ulvestam, co-founder and chief executive of Acast, said: “Since the day we launched, we have been approached by investors on either side of the Atlantic, but for the next stage in our growth, we needed a partner with deep industry knowledge.

“As one of the world’s longest-established and largest media groups, Bonnier Growth Media matches our requirements as much as we do theirs. They understand that we are a category-defining platform: redefining and revitalising a space by engaging with producers, consumers, and advertisers, in an altogether new way.”

Podcast Q&A

What has happened?

Podcast hosting platform Acast has raised $5m from Swedish firm Bonnier Growth Media and extra funds from existing investor Moor to expand in Europe and the US.

What is Acast?

The Swedish platform – led in the UK by former Spotify executive Ross Adams – aims to capitalise on the resurgence of the medium by enhancing podcasts with videos, links and images while they play on smartphones.

Is there money in it?

Digital publishers had previously shunned podcasting, after struggling to find ways to attract advertisers. However, Acast’s software allows targeted ads based on the niche audiences – from basketball fans to etymology enthusiasts – that podcasts attract to be easily inserted. Many podcasts also include ads read out by the host which give them editorial advocacy that is attractive to brands.

Aren’t podcasts quite 2004? 

Podcasts had their initial boom a decade ago when the likes of Ricky Gervais popularised the medium. However, a resurgence led by the global frenzy around true crime podcast Serial has led to a host of podcasts including interview show Distraction Pieces, hosted by rapper Scroobius Pip (pictured), becoming sought after. 

How will the medium develop?

As streaming on the move becomes commonplace the podcast format could dry up but spoken-word shows with a large, very specific and captive audience are likely to increasingly appeal to advertisers.

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