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iHeart Buys Voxnest, Building Its Podcast Ad Tech And Programmatic Capabilities.

The latest signal that the era of the big podcast companies merely being creators of content is over comes with iHeartMedia’s announcement Friday (Oct. 23) that it is buying Voxnest. Launched in 2018 following the merger of Spreaker and BlogTalkRadio, Voxnest brings to iHeart a suite of advertising capabilities and tools including podcast analytics, enterprise publishing, programmatic integration, and targeted ad serving.

Terms of the deal weren’t immediately released. iHeartMedia owned a minority stake in Voxnest prior to the acquisition.

“The addition of iHeart’s offerings to Voxnest will ensure critical mass for the platform and accelerate its growth,” said iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman. “As we continue to invest in podcasting and lead the industry, we anticipate this acquisition will have an important impact on iHeart’s ability to more fully monetize its podcast inventory, and will also benefit the other podcast publishers that are part of the Voxnest network and the advertisers who are using it.”

With hundreds of shows under the iHeart umbrella and a content team that has grown out of its 2018 acquisition of Stuff Media, the main driver behind its deal with Voxnest is ad tech. With this acquisition, iHeartMedia picks up Dynamo, Voxnest’s monetization platform. Its advertising technology capabilities include dynamic ad insertion, audience and content targeting, programmatic podcast buying across all audio sales platforms, and a full podcast analytics platform. Those capabilities mean iHeartMedia will be able to provide podcast advertisers with additional targeting capabilities at even greater scale across an entire range of podcast inventory on the programmatic platform.

The company said it expects that the additional inventory that will come with the Voxnest Audio Network will increase monetization across a range of podcasts benefitting both ad buyers and sellers. iHeart said it will also be able to drive greater monetization for creators of podcast content – wherever they currently publish their shows – by connecting Voxnest’s advanced ad technology with multiple publishing platforms across the industry.

“This is an important addition to the iHeart digital product ecosystem, which includes our SmartAudio suite of data-driven broadcast radio advertising solutions; our position as the No. 1 commercial podcast publisher with massive distribution and promotion across all our broadcast assets; and the iHeartRadio digital platform,” said Pittman.

The deal will also gives iHeart a new content funnel since Voxnest’s assets include the Spreaker publishing platform used by producers to record and publish their shows. Voxnest also has a wider global footprint, giving iHeart a reach into the rapid growth of podcast listening in other parts of the world.

Voxnest said in its midyear report that its desktop listening increased 58% through May. Listening through an internet-connected television had grown 28%. And listening using smart speakers was up 11%.

Francesco Baschieri, CEO of Voxnest, has been predicting more consolidation would come to podcasting for the past two years. It now includes his company. “We’re excited about the growth potential from this unique combination,” he said. “The podcast marketplace has been fragmented, with supply and demand spread across multiple platforms – creating scale challenges for marketers who want to buy podcasts.” The result, according to Baschieri, will be to make buying more efficient for buyers and sellers of podcast advertising. “With this combination, for the first time there will be one podcast technology platform that can bring together all of the demand sources with the largest supplier of podcast inventory – creating the only podcast technology platform that consolidates all the podcast markets into one,” he said.

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