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Acast has launched Sponsored Stories, a new advertising option available exclusively through the Acast Marketplace.
The company explains that it aims to go beyond traditional sponsorship with this option by “giving advertisers longer spots with high production values, more opportunity for storytelling, and a greater share of voice within ad breaks.”
Sponsored Stories are dynamically inserted in ad breaks across a show’s entire back catalog, and are available to buy across any of the network’s portfolio. They differ from branded segments because they are not baked into specific podcast episodes, allowing the brand message to be more commercially focused, without needing to be contextually relevant to a single episode, while remaining current regardless of how long ago the show itself was published, said Acast.
The spots can run anywhere from 90 seconds to four minutes in length, with the focus on storytelling. The format encourages the advertiser to be “flexible and adventurous” in creating an “immersive listener experience.” For example, a host might interview someone external to the podcast or record outside of the normal studio environment.
Acast Creative, Acast’s market-leading in-house creative ad solutions team, bring the Sponsored Stories to life. Acast Creative launched in 2019, and has delivered branded content campaigns for advertisers including Netflix, Microsoft, Apple and Ford. The team is expanding and recruiting for roles in Europe and the United States.
“We’re fiercely protective of the unique audio environment podcasting provides, and what it allows advertisers to do,” said Jack Preston, director of Acast Creative, UK+ and U.S. “By introducing Sponsored Stories, we’re giving our podcasters and the brands they choose to work with more space to be creative — to do something a little different to the traditional sponsorship read — while at the same time creating an even more immersive experience for the listener.”
“Many of our publishers and independent podcasters don’t have the bandwidth or the resources to create large scale branded content campaigns, so this product also gives them an opportunity to work with brands on creative executions at a higher price point,” Preston added.