Acast launches self-serve host-read ads

Platform aims to speed up buying journey with new discovery tools

Acast now allows brands and agencies to purchase host-read podcast advertising on a self-serve basis, the company has announced, in an effort to make the buying process more efficient.

The new capabilities give advertisers the ability to browse all of the podcasts that are part of the Acast Marketplace in order to identify the right shows to partner with. This portal will include rates and audience information for each show, as well as advanced filtering options based on a number of categories. 

Acast said the product, which has been in early beta with around 40 clients for a month, will also leverage AI to offer intelligent recommendations of podcasts that advertisers may not previously have come across or considered.

“This is a real moment for us. Host-read sponsorships are what makes podcast advertising so special and they’re the ultimate personal endorsement for advertisers because podcast listeners have such a deep, intimate connection with the creators they love and truly value their recommendations,” said Acast product manager Niklas Lagerberg. “By opening up sponsorships in our self-serve advertising platform, Acast has created even more opportunities for advertisers of all sizes to reach high-value podcast audiences in the way that our medium has become so famous for.”

The new process aims to provide an alternative to Acast’s traditional methods of booking host-read advertising, which typically involved a prospective client reaching out to an Acast representative, who would then search the company’s internal database for suggestions of podcasts to partner with based on the advertiser’s campaign goals.

“I think our product teams measured 48 actions in this process, end to end,” said Acast product director Milly Botes, “because host reads are this very manual, laborious end-to-end process. I think ‘monstrously inefficient’ was the word our product managers really latched onto there.”

While the new features are focused on speeding up the process of podcast discovery for advertisers, the actual process of booking an ad campaign will still be facilitated by an Acast sales agent, who will put clients in touch with their chosen podcast partners and manage the fulfilment of the campaign.

“We are expecting this to really democratise the entry point for host-read ads; a lot more buyers will be seeking host-read ads that potentially weren’t able to go through Acast before, because there would be a limit to which it would be profitable for us to service [them], because of the manual process that it included before.” 

Acast also plans to expand these capabilities later next month by introducing more on-platform tools to support campaign management, including workflows for creating and approving ads and a built-in communication and messaging system for interactions between clients and podcasters.

The new functionality follows the introduction of self-serve spot ads in November last year, allowing advertisers to book pre-recorded ad campaigns with minimal interaction. Since launch, Acast said that more than 150 brands have used the tool to book campaigns, with nearly 40% of those advertisers going on to re-book additional spend.

Part of Acast’s strategy with self-serve advertising, Botes said, is to ensure that the company’s sales teams aren’t spending time on manual admin tasks, and are instead acting as “strategic partners” for the company’s “high-value clients”.