Acast is a Swedish startup company that markets paywalled content and dynamic ad space on a podcast hosting platform which can target advertising based on location, time, and any personal data they have, on any listening device. Måns Ulvestam, the founder and CEO, wrote, “So, if McDonalds want to advertise at lunch-time in New York, we can sell that same slot, on the same RSS-feed, to Burger King in LA when it is noon there.” Acast was co-founded by Karl Rosander and launched in April 2014. The company also has an office in New York. The platform distributes content for publishers like Buzzfeed and the Financial Times. As of May 2015, the service had 1 million users and 12 million streams per month.
Acast currently hosts 50% of commercial podcasts broadcast in the UK, including content from xfm, The Naked Scientists, Spectator, ASOS, and The Guardian. The platform enables producers to host podcasts for free and monetise them via its ad-supported platform. Clean advert breaks can be inserted to ensure the flow of an episode is not disrupted. The platform enables digital publishers to easily insert ads targeting niche audiences.
On May 23, 2016, Acast launched a premium, ad-free paywall strategy called Acast+. As opposed to traditional methods in which direct-response ads are embedded in the podcasts, Acast+ lets podcast creators sell content directly to their audiences. Creators can set their own price and split revenue with Acast. For a recommended $2.99 to $6.99 per month, listeners can purchase a monthly show pass with additional content, though they can purchase one-offs as well.
In May 2015, Acast closed a $5m Series A funding round, led by Bonnier Growth Media. This was supplemented by an undisclosed follow-on investment from early-stage venture capital firm MOOR, which is owned by serial entrepreneur Kaj Hed, majority owner of Rovio Entertainment, creators of Angry Birds.
In 2014, just four months after launch, Acast was named Start-up of the Year by IDG magazine, Internetworld, and ‘Most innovative media service’ at leading mobile industry awards Mobilgalan.
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- Telegraph, April 2015 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/11513025/How-Serial-shook-up-the-podcasting-industry.html
- The Wall Street Journal, "Podcasts Experiment With Paid Subscriptions," May 23, 2016, https://www.wsj.com/articles/podcasts-experiment-with-paid-subscriptions-1463997601
- Reuters, May 2015 https://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/18/us-acast-funding-idUSKBN0O314O20150518
- The Independent, May 2015 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/podcast-boom-in-serials-wake-sees-acast-record-5m-funding-10257029.html
- "Hot Pod: We now have new, free rankings to show how podcasts stack up against each other". Retrieved 2016-09-21.
- "Podcast paywall: Stockholm-based podcasting platform Acast launches a premium, ad-free service". Retrieved 2016-09-21.