December 10, 2018
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Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project goes live for all

in Apps/Delhi/genome/India/Media/mobile/Pandora/podcasts/Politics/streaming by

Last month, Pandora announced it would soon be bringing its “Genome” technology to a new space outside of music: it would leverage a similar classification system to make podcast recommendations, too. Initially, the feature was only available to select users on mobile devices, ahead of a broader public launch. Today, Pandora says its Podcast Genome Project has gone live for all users.

Like Pandora’s Music Genome – its music information database capable of classifying songs across 450 different attributes — Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project is a cataloging system designed to evaluate content. But its focus is on audio programs instead of music.

The Podcast Genome Project can currently evaluate content across over 1,500 attributes, including MPAA ratings, production style, content type, host profile, and more, alongside other listener signals, like thumbs, skips, replays and others. It uses a combination of machine learning algorithms, natural language processing and collaborative filtering methods to help determine listener preferences, the company says.

Pandora then combines this data with human curation to make its podcast recommendations.

These recommendations are live now in the Pandora app’s “Browse” section, under the banner “Recommended Podcasts For You.” Podcasts will also be discoverable throughout the app in the Now Playing screen, search bar, in the podcast backstage passes, and in the episode backstage passes.

At launch, the app is aggregating over 100,000 podcast episodes in genres like News, True Crime, Sports, Comedy, Music, Business, Technology, Entertainment, Kids, Health and Science, the company adds.

Podcasters can also now ask to be included in Pandora’s app by filling out a form here.

Longer-term, a better recommendation system for podcasts could help Pandora as it becomes more integrated with its acquirer SiriusXM. The deal will likely bring SiriusXM’s exclusive programming to Pandora’s subscribers, which would greatly increase the number of audio programs available on its service. Putting the right programs in front of the most interested customers could then drive more people to upgrade to a paid subscription, impacting Pandora’s bottom line.


News Source = techcrunch.com

Acast raises $35M to help podcasters make money

in Acast/Advertising Tech/Delhi/funding/India/Media/podcasts/Politics/Ross Adams/Startups by

Podcasting has grown tremendously in recent years, and a Stockholm-based company called Acast is looking to help all those podcasters make money.

Acast is announcing today that it has raised $35 million in Series C funding, bringing its total funding to more than $67 million. Investors in the round include AP1 (which manages some of the capital in Sweden’s national income pension system), as well as Swedbank Robur funds Ny Teknik and Microcap.

Ross Adams, who became Acast’s CEO last fall, told me that the money will allow Acast to expand, both in terms of its product offerings and the geographies where it operates.

The company has focused on bringing technology to the surprisingly old-fashioned world of podcast advertising. In fact, it pioneered the practice of dynamically inserting ads into podcasts — as opposed to the model where (as Adams put it), “When you listen to a five-year-old podcast, you’ll hear the host read a five-year-old ad.”

Earlier this year, it announced a partnership with the BBC, allowing the BBC’s podcasts to remain ad-free in the United Kingdom while inserting ads everywhere else.

“We don’t mind if your show is absolutely huge or absolutely tiny,” Adams said. “The model we have allows a serious mainstream publisher like the BBC to monetize — or a bedroom podcast hobbyist.”

Ross Adams

At the same time, Adams wants Acast to support other business models. It’s already experimenting with paid, premium content through its Acast+ app, but it sounds like there are more paid podcast products in the works: “We want to be that central point of monetization, [whether] they make money through advertising or they’re looking at premium offerings.”

As for geographic expansion, Acast says it launched in Ireland, New Zealand and Denmark this year. It also plans to grow in the United States, which currently represents 25 percent of all listens on the platform.

Acast is also looking to bring podcast monetization into new hardware — Adams said the company has spent much of the past year focused on the smart speaker market. Those speakers present new opportunities for content (Adams said it’s less about “longer-form storytelling” and more “short-form shows for your daily consumption in the morning”), and new challenges for advertising.

Adams is hoping that if Acast can solve those challenges, it won’t just be monetizing the smart home market, but also moving into cars and anywhere else you might find “voice-enabled technology.”

News Source = techcrunch.com

Koo! is a social network for short-form podcasts

in Battlefield/Delhi/Disrupt/disrupt berlin 2018/India/koo/podcasts/Politics/Social/Startup Battlefield/Startups/TC by

Alexandre Meregan says that music, and audio in general, has always been core to his life. But one day on his five-minute commute to work, trying to listen to a podcast for the first time, he realized that by the time he arrived at work he had only heard an introduction and a commercial jingle.

He immediately went to work on Koo!, a short-form podcast app aimed at young people. Koo! lets users record up to one minute of audio, add “sound stickers” like a drum roll or a poop sound, and share the “Koo” in a feed with their friends and followers.

Meregan believes that some young people are hesitant to share their thoughts on social media, which is mostly picture or video-based, because of the quantification of their self-worth through Like counters. With Koo! users can simply speak their thoughts without having to share a picture or video.

“At Koo! we believe a lot of great content is being held back by teenagers due to insecurities that comes with photo and video,” said Meregan onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin on the Startup Battlefield. “We feel that what you say should be more important than how you look.”

Like most social networks, Koo! is primarily focused on acquiring new users before focusing on a revenue model. Ad-supported revenue is the most obvious option to make money, but Meregan says that the team has been floating around a few other ideas, as well.

One user-acquisition tactic, according to Meregan, is to target YouTube content creators and give them a complimentary service to share their thoughts and voice.

A handful of startups have tried their hand at audio-based social networks, but few have managed to gain much traction.

Koo! is backed by Sweet Studio, though Meregan declined to share the amount of funding the company has received to date.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Anchor wants a future where everyone reads Squarespace ads

in Advertising Tech/anchor fm/Delhi/Entertainment/India/podcasts/Politics by

In the future, everyone will get Blue Apron ad copy. Meantime, Anchor’s helping users monetize their shows with Sponsorships, a new program designed to match podcasters with advertisers. The feature is pretty straightforward for anyone who’s ever attempted to make some money podcasting, but now it’s integrated into the site’s overall mission of democratizing the podcasting process.

Starting this week, Sponsorships will be integrated into Anchor’s platform, letting users turn the feature on for the full show or on a per-episode basis. Anchor will then match a custom sponsor based on various factors, including size, recording location and podcast topic, sending hosts a note when they’ve found a proper match.

Hosts can import a pre-recorded ad into the show or do their own reads, determining where in the episode to place it. In my experience, advertisers love a good mid-roll ad, though I’ve always balked at breaking up the flow of things mid-conversation. The system can also ad advertising spots retroactively to older episodes.

Anchor’s got a bunch of advertisers on board — many of which will prove familiar to those who’ve spent any time listening to podcasts. The list so far includes SeatGeek, Cash App, Ro, Dirty Lemon, Baboon, Living Proof, The Citizenry and, of course, Squarespace. Money will be deposited into an account, which can be withdrawn via Stripe. Both stripe and Anchor will get a small cut of the transaction.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Pandora brings its Genome technology to podcast recommendations

in AI/Artificial Intelligence/Delhi/India/Pandora/personalization/podcasts/Politics/TC by

Earlier this year, Pandora challenged Spotify’s personalization capabilities by using its Music Genome technology to create dozens of customized playlists for its users. Today, it will begin leveraging similar technology to do the same for podcasts. The Podcast Genome Project, as it’s called, is now powering a new recommendation system that will be combined with human editorial oversight to offer content suggestions for Pandora users.

Like the Music Genome – the music information database capable of classifying songs across 450 different attributes – the Podcast Genome Project is also a cataloging system designed to evaluate content. But in this case, its focus is on audio programs.

Says Pandora, the Podcast Genome Project can currently evaluate content across over 1,500 attributes like MPAA ratings, production style, content type, host profile and more, as well as listener signals, like thumbs, skips, replays, and more. It uses machine learning algorithms, natural language processing and collaborative filtering methods to help determine listener preferences.

Also similar to the Music Genome, the Podcast Genome technology is combined with human curation to make its recommendations.

The system will do more than suggest shows to try out, Pandora notes. In addition to finding new podcasts, it can also suggest which episodes to listen to at the right time.

The Pandora app will direct users to its recommendations in the app.

The goal with the new project is to help solve the issues around podcast discovery, which is an increasingly difficult challenge as the genre’s popularity explodes with more podcasters creating shows. However, Pandora points out that the majority of U.S. users aren’t regular podcast listeners.

“It might feel like podcasts are ubiquitous, but, eighty-three percent of Americans aren’t yet listening to podcasts on a weekly basis, and a majority of them report that’s because they simply don’t know where to start,” said Roger Lynch, Pandora CEO. “Making podcasts – both individual episodes and series – easy to discover and simple to experience is how we plan to greatly grow podcast listening while simultaneously creating new and more sustainable ways to monetize them,” he said.

Pandora was recently acquired by SiriusXM for $3.5 billion – a deal that will likely bring some of SiriusXM’s exclusive audio programming over to Pandora, increasing its lineup of available audio shows. Technology that’s capable of analyzing these sorts of programs for the purpose of recommendations could be useful there, too, in the future.

The personalized podcast destination is launching into beta today to select Pandora users on mobile devices. It will expand to the wider public in the weeks ahead.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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