By Anne Steele and Benjamin Mullin 

Entercom Communications Corp. will acquire podcast ad network Podcorn in a deal aimed at helping the second-largest U.S. radio broadcaster expand its advertising business, according to the companies.

The deal is the latest in a spate of consolidation in the podcast realm as large media and tech companies build out podcast advertising capabilities to attract more ad dollars to the rapidly growing medium. Entercom sees Podcorn as key to helping its advertisers reach the audiences for thousands of influential up-and-coming podcasters.

The deal values Podcorn at $22.5 million, with Entercom paying $14.6 million upfront in cash and a performance-based earnout over the next three years.

U.S. advertising revenue from podcasts is projected to grow to more than $1 billion this year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The migration of listeners to on-demand audio has sparked an arms race among major media and tech players, including Spotify Technology SA, iHeartMedia Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Sirius XM Holdings Inc.

In recent months, these companies have focused on laying the groundwork and building -- or buying -- an infrastructure to better serve advertisers interested in podcasting, which has historically lagged behind other media in its ability to measure data and analyze its reach. The industry is aiming to make podcasts a more popular place for brands of all sizes to advertise.

Los Angeles-based Podcorn operates a self-service marketplace that connects advertisers with almost 40,000 midsize podcasters to facilitate campaigns and native sponsorships. It was founded in 2019 by Agnes Kozera and David Kierzkowski after they sold their previous company, FameBit -- which connects video influencers and YouTube stars with advertisers -- to Alphabet Inc.'s Google. Both founders will stay with the company and join Entercom's leadership team.

"The market doesn't really create opportunities for leading brands to connect at scale across thousands of those influencers," said Entercom Chief Executive David Field. "That's what we think is untapped."

Entercom put its podcasting stake in the ground in 2019, reaching deals for Pineapple Street Media -- now Pineapple Street Studios -- and Cadence13. Pineapple produces top podcasts like "The Clearing" and "Welcome to Your Fantasy," while Cadence13 offers a slate of services to podcast creators with whom it works to develop, produce, market and advertise podcasts.

Write to Anne Steele at Anne.Steele@wsj.com and Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 09, 2021 18:21 ET (23:21 GMT)

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