Mediaweek Interview: Acast global chief executive – Ross Adams

‘We are seeing a huge amount of listening in Australia and it is our fourth-biggest market’

Ross Adams has been with podcast hosting platform Acast since its inception, helping position, launch, and monetise Acast in the UK in 2014. In his new role of CEO, one of the commitments he has made is to go and see all the regions. He made good on his promise to visit Australia this week.

In Australia, Acast partners with Nova Entertainment as all major Australian radio broadcasters position themselves to ride the podcast wave.

Adams spoke with James Manning and Natalie MacDonald on Sky News Business (pictured above).

Tell us about the growth of podcasting.

It is really the only medium that is growing. It is virtually doubling growth year-on-year according to the statistics out of America. Revenue has grown to $200m-plus that was spent in America on just podcasts alone. What we have done is allow publishers and podcasters to let us take care of the monetisation side while we distribute and they focus on the content.

Traditional radio broadcasters are partnering with podcasters in Australia. Do we see that elsewhere in the world?

It is being treated slightly differently elsewhere. We are a Swedish company and we haven’t partnered with radio in that market, where we remain very independent as a stand-alone. The same applies in the UK.

In Australia we partnered with Nova Entertainment because it enables us to get our message out quickly and they have a huge sales team and they understand the digital medium better than most. For us it is a brilliant partnership.

What is happening with measurement and data?

These are the things that are missing from podcasting. Mediaweek has been podcasting for 10 years and it is a 12-year-old medium. The reason it has yet to take off for advertisers in a big way is the metrics for measurement are missing.

Four years ago when Acast launched in Sweden we applied metrics to everything we do. We are a digital tech company and if we want to fight for digital audio budgets we have to measure audiences.

Tell us how the measurement is tracked.

Podcasts are hosted and distributed via the Acast platform and wherever listening happens on any platform we gather that data and use it to target audiences with advertisers.

We are seeing a huge amount of listening in Australia and it is our fourth-biggest market. The way it has been scaling it could become our second-biggest market. The latest stats we have are that one-quarter of the Australian market listens to podcasts on a weekly basis and we represent about 26% of that.

For advertisers that want to hit scale, they come to networks like us because we represent 1,500 podcasts and that list is growing every single day.

What is the strategy for growing revenues?

If you look at the UK where we are three and a half years old, we have been very successful and the revenue uptick from last year is huge. Right now demand is almost outstripping supply so we are doubling down on supply.

Revenues are key – if you look at the investment we have attracted in the past, investors want to see a scalable model, a model that will grow revenues and be profitable. We have proven that in our core markets, and it seems Australia might prove that a lot quicker.

What genres are attracting both audiences and advertisers?

The traditional areas of sport and entertainment do very well. Podcasting can also be quite niche and if you sign lots of shows in that niche category you get audiences of scale.

Is podcasting make an impact with people in cars? How easy do you need to make it for them?

The beauty of Acast is we are platform-agnostic so, wherever anybody pushes play for a podcast that we host, we monetise it. We have an announcement just this week about a partnership with Ford Sync that enables voice-activated listening in cars. Depending on the time of your journey, the software will recommend podcasts of that exact length. Podcasting can exist in different mediums – podcasting is really taking off on smart devices in the home, in-car listening is huge, web podcasting remains strong, and the various traditional apps for podcasting also have a big role to play.

Could podcasting ever be a disruptor to radio the way that digital has savaged print and is starting to hurt TV?

Definitely not. We talk a lot about it not disrupting radio. People are time-poor now and podcasting is a medium that can travel everywhere with you. It fills moments in daily lives that are not necessarily being filled now so it is not here to challenge radio.

Read more about Acast in Mediaweek:

Nova and Acast claim to be biggest podcast player in Australia.

Nova offers advertisers biggest podcast offering.

How Acast is riding the podcast boom

Karl Rosander and Caitlin Thompson on how the business model is changing.

Nova rebrand launch, Cathy O’Connor announces Acast podcast deal

Nova uses Opera House to formally launch rebrand, reveals podcast partnership.

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