Cheat Sheet: Why Amazon bought Art19

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Add scaled podcast ad inventory to the long list of things Amazon will eventually be able to offer to advertisers. 

On Friday last week, Amazon announced it would acquire Art19, the podcast hosting and monetization platform used by publishers ranging from Wondery to NBCUniversal. Art19 is the second podcast-focused acquisition Amazon has made in the past year, part of a string of moves it has made to diversify the kind of media it can offer to advertisers. 

The key details

  • Art19 offers advertisers both premium, host-read ads for a select list of podcasts, as well as a network of thousands of other podcasts that will accept dynamically inserted pre-made ads. 
  • Art19 will be housed inside Amazon Music, which is also where Amazon stashed Wondery, the podcast studio behind hit shows such as “Dirty John,” which it acquired at the end of 2020. 
  • Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Since its launch, Art19 had raised $7.5 million in venture capital, as well as a separate, unspecified amount of debt from one of its founders, BDMI, in 2019, according to Crunchbase. 

Channel changing

Amazon has been on the hunt for more inventory it can offer advertisers, both inside and outside the walls of its own ad ecosystem. Digiday reported earlier this year that the e-commerce platform plans to launch an identifier that will allow advertisers to follow consumers’ movements across Amazon’s growing media ecosystem, which includes not just the retail media available inside its website but also advertisements shown on Twitch, inside Prime Video and inside Amazon Music, its streaming music platform. 

Podcasts, which about 80 million Americans listen to every week, represent another channel for advertisers to use in multi-channel campaigns. 

Sound clash

In some ways, Amazon’s acquisitions are just about keeping up with the joneses. After years of being mostly indifferent to podcasts, the world’s tech platforms — as well as the largest terrestrial radio broadcasters — have grown interested in them as they battle on every front of the digital ad market. 

Spotify, which started hunting for original podcasts back in 2017, has seen the medium turn into a key source of ad revenue and user growth; it is expected to surpass Apple as the largest source of podcast consumption this year. Google’s podcast app has been downloaded over 100 million times.  

Those battles have intensified as the budgets that brands and agencies are committing to podcasting have grown. Last year, Omnicom Media Group made headlines when it announced it had committed to spending $20 million on podcast ads with Spotify.

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