iHeartMedia to Acquire Voxnest, Its Latest Bet on Podcasting

iHeartMedia plans to acquire Voxnest, a podcasting services company that offers advertising, analytics and publishing tools to enterprise clients such as Vanity Fair and Wired, the company announced Friday (Oct. 23). A source with knowledge of the acquisition says iHeartMedia will pay for Voxnest roughly what it paid for Stuff Media, which was reported to be $55 million.

Among Voxnest’s products is “dynamic ad insertion,” meaning it can place ads into podcasts based on factors such as listener demographics, location and interests. Voxnest “will ensure critical mass for the platform and accelerate its growth,” iHeartMedia Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman said in a statement. The Brooklyn-based company, which formed in January 2018 from the merger of Spreaker and BlogTalkRadio, also hosts and distributes podcasts.

Like Spotify’s two-pronged approach to podcasting, a mix of acquisitions and original content, iHeartMedia has actively improved its stature in the format. Among the U.S. audience, as of September, iHeartMedia narrowly ranked second behind NPR, 26.05 million to 25.98 million, according to podcast analytics company Podtrac. iHeartMedia produces such popular podcasts as Stuff You Should Know, Crime Stories With Nancy Grace, Paper Ghosts and Dead Ass With Khadeen and Devale Ellis.

iHeartMedia certainly needs a boost in 2020. Digital advertising accounted for about one-fifth of iHeartMedia’s second quarter revenue, from April to June. Broadcast radio sales, half of total revenues, fell 56.5% compared to the same period last year from $561.1 million to $244 million. But podcasting revenue grew 103% from the prior-year period, helping digital sales improve 2.4% — iHeartMedia’s only improving segment.