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Friday, Jul 1, 2022

Gumball Takes Aim at Podcast Ad Marketplace

As the growing popularity of podcasts opens up new opportunities for advertisers and content creators alike, Silver Lake-based podcast production company Headgum Inc. is working to facilitate more efficient connections between those two groups.

Headgum-owned advertising technology startup Gumball announced on March 8 the completion of a $10 million Series A funding round to accelerate the growth of a digital ad marketplace focused on podcasts.

Podcast listeners may be familiar with the host-read promotions common to many programs that depend on advertising revenue. Marty Michael, chief executive of Headgum and Gumball, said these spots are a great option for advertisers because they are easier to produce and cheaper than a video ad or even a traditional radio promotion. The only issue is that in the world of podcasting, where many programs are produced by small companies or independent creators, these ad sales can be tricky to arrange.

“There’s a lot of manual work that goes into selling a host-read ad unit,” Michael said. “To do it well at scale you either need to hire a bunch of people or you could build a technology platform to help facilitate all that manual back and forth.”
Gumball, Michael said, automates most of the logistical steps that go into facilitating podcast ad sales and gives marketers the option to make bulk orders and prioritize key demographics when purchasing ads.

Michael said Headgum began developing Gumball a few years after launching in 2015, bringing on former Vimeo Inc. Chief Technology Officer Andrew Pile to develop the digital marketplace. The platform was first used to facilitate ad sales for Headgum’s own podcasts, but Michael said it now fuels ad buys for 150 shows from a host of small producers.
“There’s no lift to adding these independent creators,” Michael said. “And they’re seeing a lot of success tapping into the advertisers that we’ve already been working with for the past six years.”

Michael said the recent round of funding, led by Union Square Ventures and Good Friends, will give Gumball the ability to build a marketing team in order to ensure its platform reaches more brands and podcast creators.
“The funnel of people asking to join the platform right now is really based on word of mouth,” Michael said. “We need to get the word out about what we have.”

Gumball in action.

Michael said Gumball also plans to make hires on the tech side to expand the functionality of its platform and ensure creators and marketers have access to the tools they need.
“We feel like there’s a real open lane in front of us to make this as smooth as any other media purchase out there,” Michael said. “I’m really excited about bringing this to more creators and more advertisers.”

Paola Mendez
Paola Mendez
Paola Mendez graduated from Los Angeles Valley College, then transferred to University of California, and now serves as a Receptionist and Office Assistant to the Los Angeles Business Journal. Paola wears many hats in different departments and is trilingual in English, Spanish and French.

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