Ford announced at Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, that the Acast mobile app would be made available to drivers via Ford SYNC 3 AppLink.
Ford SYNC AppLink enables drivers to use supported smartphone apps on their vehicle’s integrated touchscreen; with advanced voice and steering controls. AppLink is powered by SmartDeviceLink (SDL) an open source software solution promoted by a number of auto makers. SDL provides a common interface between apps and vehicles.
Acast is a curated platform for podcasts. They connect listeners, podcast creators, and advertisers in a fully integrated, one-stop shop. Acast helps listeners discover new content by suggesting new voices and popular shows, as well as fully curated lists.
Acast also provides podcasters with a simple publishing service for their content. Acast+ is a marketplace for podcasts. Acast describes Acast+ this way: “We created a destination where you can sell your premium content directly to your loyal audience for a price you set yourself”.
Ford announced that the mobile app from audio-on-demand podcast Acast would be made available to drivers. This offers online downloads and an intelligent recommendation engine analyses commute times to suggest podcasts which best fit journey length.
Acast was one of the winners of Ford’s 2017 “Make it Drivable” Paris AppLink Challenge, a start-up focused event to help companies develop ideas that make journeys better.
Sweden-based podcasting services provider Acast recently announced that it had raised five million dollars in order to fund an expansion of its services. The capital was provided by Sweden’s Bonnier Growth Media and Moor, a company that had invested in Acast before. Acast plans on using this infusion of cash to move into more European countries as well as North America.
Acast offers a 360-degree style system for podcasters. The platform handles hosting and publishing of episodes and feeds, including statistics. It also offers podcasters monetization opportunities thru its built-in advertising delivery system. Acast also has an “interactive show notes” feature available thru its own app. This feature allows users to, “Insert videos, images and other interactive media to the episode timeline.” The Acast media player is compatible with desktop and mobile web browsers and can be embedded onto external sites.
Acast also courts potential podcast ad buyers by telling them that podcast ads are noticed because podcasting is more engaging than radio and that podcast listeners are “committed.” Acast also tosses out a statistic that, “15% of Americans listened to a podcast last month.” No source is given for that nugget of data, and it also seems odd that Acast is offering that as a selling point when the company is just now entering the North American market.
Overall, Acast’s expansion should be seen as a good thing for the podcasting industry. And while Acast has clearly had some success as a smaller provider in Europe, it’s going to find much more competition here in America. Podcasters have a habit of running to the latest, shiny thing when it comes to these types of platforms. Hopefully, Acast turns out to be a reliable player in this space. But VC-backed firms have been known to disappear in the past. Podcasters who are eyeing Acast as the next big thing should proceed with a healthy sense of skepticism, and (as always) have a backup plan.