Acast is a startup company that provides a podcast hosting platform and a creative advertising feature for advertisers and content creators. Through the platform, Acast offers multiple ways of monetizing the podcasts, including a premium ad-free service called Acast+. Established in 2014, the company has grown, expanding from Stockholm to London, New York and Los Angeles through a $5 million investment from Bonnier Growth Media.
The working environment within the company is both challenging and motivating with short communication channels. Its products include podcasts with curated lists and suggestions that facilitate interaction and sharing between content creators and listeners. The company also offers advertising services using a feature called dynamic advertisements. The sophistication and novelty that Acast provides are among the reasons companies such as BuzzFeed and the Financial Times have chosen Acast instead of services such as Soundcloud. Although the company has not reported any revenues or profits, it hopes to expand to other areas, such as China, which has a huge potential for podcasts.
The proliferation of the internet and internet-enabled devices has changed the way companies advertise and how consumers access content online. Additionally, many startup corporations have come up, providing innovative ways of accessing content online. Among such startups is Acast, a company that provides a managed platform for podcasts. Based in Stockholm, London, the company creates a place where consumers can listen to podcasts free, while content creators get unlimited audio storage (Dale n.p.). The company runs its services through a web site and a smart phone application available on all the major mobile operating system platforms, like iOS, Android and Windows. It means that Acast allows consumers to listen to their favorite podcasts, by enabling content creators to post their content, and advertisers to reach millions of listeners on the company’s list.
In general, Acast is a Swedish startup company, which is mainly involved in podcasting. Launched in 2014, the corporation has grown to have its headquarters in Stockholm, and offices in London, New York and Los Angeles. These offices provide easy access to the company for advertisers and content creators, creating easy interaction between the company and its customers. Acast operates inside the online entertainment industry, with a focus on delivery of content to listeners through curated podcasts created by content makers, including media companies and advertisers (Acastn.p.).
Acast’s working environment consists of a small number of people working in all the company’s offices. Moreover, given that the organization does not create content itself, its staff largely works on the application and makes sure that the services run smoothly. However, as a startup project, the company has a lot to do, and the work environment is quite challenging. According to Petch, given the nature of startups, job roles tend to overlap into other functionalities within the company that go beyond the mere single job description. The environment in a startup company is therefore challenging as it requires the employees to do tasks not only fast, but also under a serious pressure to get the job done, in addition to going far and beyond one’s specific training (Petchn.p.).
With offices in Stockholm, London, New York, and Los Angeles, Acast working environment is international and requires dynamism on the part of the employee. Moreover, the team is highly motivated as the company works to succeed in the competitive environment (Acastn.p.). Petch offers an insight into the working environment of a startup corporation stating that the dynamism of the environment transcends to working hours, which may be long and hard. Additionally, for motivation, Petch informs that startups recognize individual efforts, which indeed motivates the employees (Petch n.p.).
Acast working environment additionally has flat hierarchies and short lines of communication. The environment there is one that offers social connection throughout the entire company, with no caveats on communication between the employees and the management. Petch confirms Acast’s working environment stating that the atmosphere in such companies is usually “less stuffy” in comparison to the established corporations. Moreover, given that startups usually have small teams, communication is mostly happening on a personal and direct level (Petch n.p.). This is the environment at Acast since the small number of employees currently working for the company.
Its services include podcasts and advertisements delivered to listeners through the web-based sources and applications on the different mobile smart phone platforms including iOS, Android and Windows. Acast offers a different attitude and experience of using podcasts, allowing accurate content for the listeners. Among the features of the Acast podcasting, there is a possibility of communication between the listeners and the content makers as well as the ability to share certain moments from the shows, which is enabled by a patent pending service (Acast n.p.).
It is worth noting that Acast’s novelty in podcasts goes far beyond that by helping them discovering new content. The service analyzes the playlists of its users and then makes relevant suggestions that help listeners to find out new shows and related data (Acast n.p.).Using an embedded machine, Acast listens and learns a listener’s interests and listening habits, and uses this information to surface podcasts that are among the listener’s interests. Moreover, there are plenty of other media offered by the service, including images, videos, audio and outside web-services, which creates a completely new user experience.
Acast’s podcast, however, do not only enrich the listeners’ database but the one of the content creator`s as well. For this group, Acast’s publishing platform provides additional content making tools including images and videos, making the published content mushc more original. The supporting contents additionally help in the engagement of listeners in the podcast, enriching both the content creator and listeners’ experience- a factor that helps drive revenue (Acast n.p.). To this end, Acast currently distributes content from reputable publishers including BuzzFeed and Financial Times, as well as other independent producers (Perlberg n.p.).
For podcast content creators, Acast goes beyond merely publishing the content to driving the listenership of the content. It is done by providing opportunities for the content published on the platform. The company specifically allows the publishers to share their shows on platforms with heavy listener traffic. Thus, by allowing content creators to publish on iTunes, podcast client, and social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even WhatsApp, Acast expands the audience-reach of each episode published by content creators.
Aside from podcasts, Acast offers advertising features to content creators and companies willing to advertise on the given platform. One of the most innovative features of Acast’s advertising service is its metrics, which offers revolutionary advertising formats including fully integrated dynamic advertisements within the podcasts (Acast n.p.). The feature is quite original in that Acast was the first platform to offer it. Also known as dynamic ad insertion, the new feature provides room for flexible advertising on the podcasts as it applies to websites and blogs (Dale n.p). Through the feature therefore, some parts of the show can have tags (commercial breaks) allowing the system to insert the advertisements at the breaks during the downloading process. The system inserts the most appropriate advertisements by learning the listener’s taste and habits. Through the feature, therefore, each listener gets personalized targeted advertisements. Moreover, for the advertisements, Acast introduced programmatic buying of advertisements within podcasts.
One of the reasons Financial Times (and other companies such as BuzzFeed) is switching from Soundcloud to Acast is what the podcast platform is offering. Financial Times mentions the sophistication that Acast brings to podcast, a feature that the company (Financial Times) did not get from other podcast companies (Dale n.p). Thus, Acast offers content created on a level of sophistication that other platforms do not possess. Additionally, the Financial Times’ moved to Acast systems because of the future proofing that Acast offers. Most of the features introduced by Acast will be part of the future of podcasting, and integrating them soon is a sure way to future proof, even as podcasting and Acast continue to grow as a platform and company respectively (Dale n.p.).
Currently, Acast hosts half of commercial podcasts in the UK, including content from companies such as XFM and The Guardian, in addition to content from ASOS and Spectator. Thus, the fact that Acast offers curated lists, dynamic ad insertions, direct podcast sales to listeners, and new ways of advertising and monetizing podcasts makes it a perfect choice for many companies and content creators (Dale n.p.; Perlbergn.p.).
Acast is currently at its infancy stages funding from crowd sourcing and company investments. Acast raised $5 million from Bonnier Growth Media in 2015, which allowed it to establish its presence in UK and the US (Reuters n.p.). Thus, the company has not reported any revenues or profits as it hopes strengthen it positions and continue its growth.
The $5 million funding helped the growth in Europe and the US, however, there is potential for the development in other regions too, especially in China. The Chinese podcast market is buzzing with activity as it is visible through the numerous podcasts aired from China. Sinica, Global from Asia, The China Startup Pulse, Limitless Laowai, China History Podcast, China Business Cast, Made in China Podcast, Mckinsey-Greater China, and Analyze China are among the most common podcasts in China (Freund n.p.). The presence of the podcasts is an indication of a market suitable for expansion, and therefore Acast has the need to expand into China taking the novelty features that are typical only for this company.
“Podcast Platform Acast raises $5 million from Bonnier Growth Media.” Reuters, 2015.www.reuters.com/article/acast-funding-idUSL5N0Y92MI20150518.
Acast.“About Us.”Acast, 2017.www.acast.com/about.
Acast. “Why Join Acast?” 2017. www.acast.com/jobs/traffic-executive-london.
Dale, Brady. “Why Buzzfeed and the Financial Times Chose Acast to Host their Podcasts.” Observer, 2015. observer.com/2015/12/buzzfeed-financial-times-acast-podcasts/.
Freund, Shlomo. “9 Podcasts that would Help you to Know more about China.” Forbes, 2016.https://www.forbes.com/sites/shlomofreund/2016/07/01/9-podcasts-that-would-help-you-to-know-more-about-china/#7e50ca9d4383.
Perlberg, Steven. “Podcasts Experiment with Paid Subscriptions.”The Wall Street Journal, 2016.www.wsj.com/articles/podcasts-experiment-with-paid-subscriptions-1463997601.
Petch, Neil. “What’s it like Working for a Startup.” Entrepreneur, 2016.www.entrepreneur.com/article/274974.