Spotify is still determined to reign supreme in podcasts, and that means putting more ads in podcasts -- like it or not. The company has acquired podcast platform heavyweight Megaphone with the aim of making Spotify's ad insertion tech available to third-party podcast publishers "for the first time." If publishers want it, they'll have the option of monetizing their podcasts through Spotify (complete with tracking) instead of having to negotiate their own sponsorships. The ad tech will be available "soon" after the Megaphone deal closes, Spotify said, although it didn't say when it expected that to happen. This could be good news for podcast publishers that might have otherwise struggled to make a profit from their shows.
Last month, Apple announced it would start allowing podcast producers and publishers to offer premium subscriptions to their listeners. Ahead of the general availability of that feature later this month, the company is expanding its Services Performance Partner Program to include podcasts (via TechCrunch). The affiliate program will allow participants to earn a 50 percent commission when converting someone to a paid subscriber. Say, after tapping on an Apple affiliate link, someone signs up for a subscription that costs $10 per month. The person or organization associated with that link will earn a one-time commission of $5 after that user pays for their first month of paid service.
Slate is announcing a new service called Supporting Cast, which lets podcasters and podcast networks offer members-only versions of their shows. If that idea sounds familiar, it should: Ad-free shows and bonus audio content have been a core part of Slate Plus for years. In fact, our members-only podcast offerings are the single largest reason Slate Plus has grown to nearly 50,000 subscribers. Now we're making it easy for other podcasters to launch membership programs of their own. We're proud to announce two podcast networks as launch partners: Critical Frequency, whose membership program you can check out now, and 5by5, which will be launching next.
The book coming out Tuesday, whose stories range from kinky sex to kidnapping, is an extension of a nearly decade-old podcast in which ordinary people share secrets about their lives. Mr. Allison, a 48-year-old Ohioan turned New Yorker, is about to find out whether his roughly 1 million free downloads a month will translate into book sales. "Risk!" is the latest book built on a podcast, a growing industry niche as publishers seize on the audio medium known for eclectic voices, relatively low production costs and fervent fans. After years of making YouTubers and social-media stars into authors, publishers are now doing the same for podcasters. "It's grown exponentially," said Eve Attermann, a literary agent with WME who is working on book proposals with at least five podcast clients.
Some podcast producers have a surprising message for Apple and other podcast distributors: More data? It's almost heresy in today's super-trackable, minutely monitored media environment to want less information on what your audience is consuming. But a New York Times article -- profiling podcasters clamoring for Apple to provide more information on who's listening to their programs -- seems to have exposed a divide within the podcasting world itself. Yes, some see a podcast boom and want to monetize them in the same way as other media. And there are those, like noted developer Marco Arment, who want to leave all the microtransactions and obsessive data analysis by the wayside.