Jul 25, 2023

Acast to focus on automation to ‘create value’ for advertisers

The world’s biggest podcast platform will focus on developing its automation to “deliver long-term benefits”.

In its latest quarterly earnings call, Ross Adams, Acast CEO, said automation would be a focus for the company going forward, “creating value” for Acast, advertisers and creators.

He highlighted programmatic ad buying “continues to be one of the fastest-growing advertising channels” in its marketplace.

Adams said: “By automating the ad-buying process we create higher cost efficiency, at the same time more opportunities are created for advertisers to reach and engage a valuable podcast audience.”

Another example is Acast’s self-serve ad platform, which launched late last year and over the last quarter added host-read sponsorships across its entire portfolio to its inventory. Adams said this addition was “a significant improvement in our offering”, as previously only pre-recorded podcast ads were available on a self-serve basis.

Acast’s self-serve ad platform experienced a 40% lift in the number of booked campaigns quarter-on-quarter, with an increase of new advertisers, and almost 40% of all advertisers on the platform made repeat bookings.

“The work to automate our services and reduce manual sales work continues,” he explained. “Our ongoing efforts to enhance our self-serve platform exemplify our continuous drive to increase automation in our operations.”

On the theme of automation, Adams also highlighted Acast+ Access, which allows news publishers, streaming services and media organisations to integrate existing subscription paywalls on their podcasts. Acast takes a fee for every private feed.

In addition he mentioned Collections+, an AI-driven data capability using Podchaser detailed meta-data and other industry data, which was launched in the last quarter. It allows advertisers to “reach more relevant listeners” and “richer sales verticals” through a wider variety of podcasts. So far it has been used by 300 brands to run 800 campaigns across thousands of campaigns.

More widely, Adams said the business strategy was to create “the world’s most valuable podcast marketplace”, which currently connects 2,300 advertisers and 100 million unique monthly users to more than 100,000 shows, equating to 1.3 billion listens a year. This number of listens increased by 4% compared to the same time last year.

Acast reported organic net sales of 15% for the quarter, with Podchaser acquisition contributing 2% and foreign exchange 5%.

There was also an improved gross margin of 36% which was “a significant improvement” on last year when it was negatively impacted by one-off costs from several podcast agreements, Adams said.

Overall he said: “The second quarter of the year has been marked by a continued improvement of our margins and our results, which was driven by prudent cost control and positive revenue development especially in North America.”

Specifically related to advertising, he added: “The timing of a broad recovery in the world’s advertising markets is still difficult to assess, but certain positive signals now appearing on the horizon give hope for the future. In the meantime, Acast is well-equipped to meet advertisers’ growing needs to reach relevant audiences through our marketplace. As a global market leader in podcasting, our position will be further strengthened as we continue to develop our offerings for both podcast creators and advertisers.”

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