Acast, a podcast host and ad network, is looking to improve its tech and broaden its reach. The company announced today that it’s acquiring RadioPublic for an undisclosed amount with the goal of using RadioPublic’s tech to bring more creators to the Acast platform and make inroads in the US market. RadioPublic’s podcast app will remain live, and its team will stay based in the US.
Among the tools that RadioPublic created — and that intrigued Acast — is something called Podsite, which helps podcasters set up a complimentary website for their show as well as a feature called Affinity Promotions, which helps podcasters target their most loyal listeners with text-based messages. They can use these messages to promote a newsletter, for example, or highlight new merch. RadioPublic, more than anything else, homed in on podcast creators and designed tools especially for them, similarly to Acast.
The Acast team operates a hosting platform, ad network, and listening app and is mostly interested in the creator side of the business. It partnered with Patreon to host its users’ shows and more easily distribute their private RSS feeds, as one example, and it makes hosting free at its most basic level. And while RadioPublic understands the US podcasting market well, which Acast plans to target moving forward, Acast is better known in other places around the world, which RadioPublic would like to reach.
“I think it was a match made in heaven,” says Leandro Saucedo, Acast’s chief business and strategy officer, in an interview with The Verge. He also points out that beyond RadioPublic’s consumer-facing tools, their technology was superb.
“It’s hard for me to explain because you get so down to the technical side, but let’s say within the car that’s Acast there’s a gearbox, which you never see but you definitely feel it if you drive, and there’s some nice gearbox stuff in RadioPublic that you wouldn’t think of, but once we put that gearbox into our car, our car runs smoother,” he says. “I think there’s a lot of that behind the scenes, which really makes sense for us, which is deep tech within the realm of podcasts.”
Broadly, Acast’s goals mirror Spotify’s. The team wants to bring as many creators to its platform as possible so that it can learn from their data and monetize their programming by selling ads through its advertiser marketplace. The more shows it has, the larger inventory it can sell. Spotify, comparatively, has tried to create a similar situation through Anchor and Megaphone, which offer sponsorships and access to an ad marketplace, respectively. The only difference in Spotify’s case is Anchor itself, which makes creating a show easier through software. Acast hasn’t focused on the actual creation toolset yet.
Still, Saucedo claims to The Verge that Acast is “the largest podcasting business in the world,” based on its revenue and investments. He says he can’t share specifics but points to the company’s $120 million in funding and says that, if backtracked, someone could figure out the brand’s valuation, which he wouldn’t divulge. Whether Saucedo is accurate in his claim is somewhat irrelevant, as it speaks to Acast’s ambitions and the wider race to the top in podcasting. Everyone wants to capture the podcast advertising market and ride that revenue to being the biggest name in podcasting. Acast is taking its shot now, and RadioPublic is one way it thinks it’ll win.