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Spotify to buy podcast ad platform Megaphone for $235 million

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Spotify is continuing its expansion into podcasting, announcing its plans to acquire podcast ad platform Megaphone.
(Dreamstime / TNS)

Spotify said Tuesday it will acquire Virginia-based podcast ad platform Megaphone, as the streaming platform aims to capture more advertising dollars.

The $235-million purchase of Megaphone is one of the largest podcasting deals Spotify has made to date. The company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars acquiring podcast production businesses, including New York-based Gimlet Media (the makers of the popular “Homecoming” series) and L.A.-based the Ringer.

Megaphone will help increase Spotify’s ad revenue. The market for podcast advertising is expected to grow at a rate of 14.7% to nearly $1 billion this year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau Podcast Ad Revenue Report prepared by PwC.

Megaphone helps advertisers target 60,000 different audience segments such as millennial women across various podcasts. The company says more than 20,000 publishers and advertisers use its platform.

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Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content officer, says she plans on making hundreds of original podcast series next year as part of a strategy to expand the streaming platform’s podcast offerings. The company aims to have 20% of the listening on its service be non-music.

“We are incredibly excited to join Spotify to help advance the podcast medium for publishers and advertisers alike,” Megaphone Chief Executive Brendan Monaghan said in a statement. “We believe that Megaphone and Spotify’s shared value in innovation will drive the podcast ecosystem forward around the world.”

Spotify has focused on growing its presence in podcasts as it aims to diversify its business beyond music streaming. In the third quarter, the company said it had 320 million monthly active users and 22% of them engaged with podcasts on its platform.

Spotify says it will offer new technology that will give advertisers more information on how well their ads are resonating with podcast listeners.

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The Megaphone acquisition continues Spotify’s plans to improve the tools available for advertisers and podcast publishers.

Earlier this year, Spotify announced new advertising technology that would track how often a Spotify podcast listener heard an ad and what its reach was. After the acquisition closes, publishers that use Megaphone will have access to Spotify’s ad technology.

The technology will bring more relevant ads to podcast consumers, said Jay Richman, Spotify’s vice president of global ad business.

“The more monetization comes into the industry, the more that can be reinvested in amazing content, which in turn will result in a better overall listener experience,” Richman said in an interview.

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Megaphone has about 70 employees and is owned by Graham Holdings Co. In the third quarter, Megaphone had operating losses but its “revenue increased significantly in the first nine months of 2020, as both advertising and platform sales experienced rapid growth during the period,” according to Graham Holdings.

The podcasting industry has consolidated as larger players including Spotify, IHeartMedia and SiriusXM increased their footprint in podcasting. Last month, SiriusXM acquired podcast business Stitcher for as much as $325 million. IHeartMedia also announced it would acquire Voxnest, a provider of podcast analytics, publishing and advertising tools, for an undisclosed amount.


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