Spotify Pulls Out A Card Trick; Brave Brags On Its Browser Biz

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Card-Carrying Commerce

Advertisers have a new card to play in the push for interactivity and accountability in audio advertising.

Spotify announced a new commerce-focused ad unit called (wait for it) Call-to-Action or CTA Cards. This new format inserts a clickable display ad into a user’s feed after they’ve heard a related sponsored audio placement. Read the release.

CTA Cards offer deals and product promos with a click without users having to memorize or copy-paste affiliate links or codes. This represents a break from tried-and-true methods of podcast advertising, which typically rely on listeners having to go out of their way to visit an advertiser’s website. If this all sounds familiar, Instagram also offers one-click shoppable links so that influencers can earn affiliate commissions. 

Spotify hopes this approach will obviate the need for podcast hosts to repeat links during their ad reads.

CTA Cards will be served to both Spotify’s premium and free users. The unit will continue to pop up in a user’s feed for a period of time after they hear the associated audio ad – typically about seven days.

Brave’s New World

The Brave browser finished 2021 with 50.2 million MAUs and 15.5 million DAUs, according to its annual recap. That’s double Brave’s 24.1 million monthly actives in 2020, which in turn had doubled from 11.2 million in 2019. 

Brave also touted advancements in terms of solidifying its business model. 

For example, revenue from Brave’s ad platform, whereby users earn the cryptocurrency Brave Attention Tokens (BAT for short) in exchange for viewing ads, quadrupled in 2021. That’s impressive growth, although it’s worth noting that Brave didn’t share a baseline, so the undisclosed total may still be low.

But Brave Search, a search engine launched in July, processed 190 million queries in December – and those numbers add up. Even a small share of the search market is lucrative. Still, Brave hasn’t reached mainstream adoption, but, then again, it’s largely focused on crypto enthusiasts and others “who share our vision for a Web free from Big Tech’s shackles,” according to Brave co-founder and CEO Brendan Eich (who’s also a co-founder of Mozilla and the creator of JavaScript).

Brave’s biggest partner addition last year was Epic Games, which you may recall sued Apple and Google over app store fees.

Who Pays For The News? 

Journalists are in high demand – and not just by news publishers.

Netflix, for instance, suddenly has publishing ambitions and recently hired an editorial team to write for a new verticalized entertainment site. (Netflix entertainment, specifically, of course.) 

The trend is documented by someone who’s part of the exodus of journos from news pubs: Shareen Pathak, Digiday’s former director of editorial products, who co-founded the publishing and content consultancy Toolkits along with former Digiday managing director of subscription products Jack Marshall.

Pathak notes that, for B2B media in particular, PR has become a lucrative alternative for trade reporters.

More brands and businesses will become media outlets, too. 

Last year, JPMorgan bought the college student financial planning resource Frank and the restaurant review site The Infatuation (which owns Zagat). HubSpot acquired The Hustle, a tech and business news service. Stripe bought Indie Hackers, a site for independent online business owners.

“Increasingly, as I’ve been talking to both journalists looking to move on from journalism as well as recruiters specializing in content and editorial, I’ve noted a growing interest from many in making a move into brand publishing roles – working inside newsrooms, still, but those funded by brands,” Pathak writes.

But Wait, There’s More!

The New York Times agrees to buy The Athletic, valuing the sports subscription and podcast company at $550 million. [The Information]

How the slow-motion death of cable TV changed the American media landscape. [NYT]

Stingray expands its retail media biz with the acquisition of InStore Audio Network. [release]

Bob Hoffman: The case against “brand” advertising. [LinkedIn]

You’re Hired!

Now-former Complex CEO Christian Baesler named new COO of BuzzFeed. [Variety]

Podcast platform Acast appoints Patrick Butkus as VP of marketing. [Radio & Television Business Report]

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