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Why Podcasting? For Amazon, The Answer Seems To Be Advertising.

Amazon has seen podcasting as a way to keep its Amazon Music service on par with rivals like Spotify and Apple Music. But in an interview with Bloomberg, an executive suggests capturing a share of podcast ad dollars is a bigger aim as the ecommerce giant invests millions of dollars to build its spoken word audio business.

“To become a player in the audio advertising market for podcasting, we need to be an intellectual property owner,” Amazon Music Head Steve Boom told Bloomberg. “The market for audio ads is growing quickly. Consumer behaviors are evolving, and this is a global opportunity.”

Earlier this year Amazon bought the podcast studio Wondery for a reported $300 million. It was followed by a deal to buy Art19, the podcast advertising and hosting company. And Amazon signed a reported $20 million per year exclusive licensing deal in June for the year-old celebrity chat show SmartLess hosted by actors Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes. Since Aug. 1, new episodes of SmartLess are released on the Amazon Music and Wondery+ apps one week before they are more widely available.

The price tag for a new show like SmartLess was surprising to many podcasters, and Bloomberg says it was told the show averages from 7 million to 10 million downloads a month and was on track to have about $6 million to $7 million in advertising revenue this year. Amazon will also get a first-look at any new podcasts created by the actors which will help the company build its podcast business further.

Amazon Music’s sister Audible also has podcasts, but the two companies seem to be taking somewhat different tracks. While Amazon Music will be a more traditional podcast creator and distribution service, Audible will focus on long-form audio projects – that includes some that today still shy away from referring to themselves as a podcast.

“The landscape for audio entertainment is vast and diverse, with different customer needs, segments, and business models,” Boom told Bloomberg. “One of the amazing things about Amazon as a company is it often has multiple irons in the fire.”

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