Pandora this morning announced it has closed on its acquisition of AdsWizz, the digital audio ad technology company whose products will be used to upgrade the streaming service’s own ad tech capabilities in the months ahead. The $145 million deal was first announced in March, with a stipulation that at least 50 percent of the acquisition price would be paid in cash. Today, Pandora confirms that it paid $66.3 million in cash and 9.9 million shares of Pandora common stock, with an additional $5 million in cash paid after the achievement of certain milestone provisions.
Prior to joining Pandora, the company had developed an end-to-end technology platform that powers music platforms, podcasts and broadcasting groups. Its customer base includes Cox Media Group, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Entercom, Omnicom Media Group, Spotify, Deezer, PodcastOne, GroupM, and others.
Its ad technology products are capable of things like dynamic ad insertion, advanced programmatic platforms, ad campaign monitoring tools, and more. It also offered new audio formats like “ShakeMe” that let users shake their phone to trigger an action while listening to an ad, as well as those that could target users based on activity (like jogging) or a situation (like the weather), along with other personalization-based ad tech.
Pandora had said the AdsWizz roadmap aligns with its own across areas like audio monetization and ad-buying capabilities and believed it would be able to bring new products to market faster with AdsWizz’ help.
Today, more of Pandora’s revenue is generated by ads. In Q1 2018, it pulled in $319.2 million in revenue, $104.7 million of which came from subscriptions, and $214.57 million from ads. But that balance is continuing to shift – it grew to 5.63 million paid subscribers in the quarter, up 19 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, the ad revenue had declined year-over-year.
Better ad tech could help the company generate more revenue from its free listeners. This is especially important, given that content licensing fees climbed from $2.96 to $4.65 per user year-over-year, as result of the growth in premium listeners. And Pandora may soon be adding more premium listeners with the launch of its $14.99/month Premium Family Plan, which the company planned to announce on Wednesday. The news was instead leaked out over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in the U.S.
“We built the AdsWizz platform using innovative technology in service of a simple idea: provide value to all stakeholders in the digital audio ecosystem – including brands, listeners and publishers – with relevant, engaged and highly targeted advertising experiences,” said Alexis van de Wyer, CEO of AdsWizz, in a statement released this morning. “This will not change. We will continue to focus on building the best technology in the industry for our publisher partners everywhere, and on continuing to innovate and enhance our platform, which will be accessible to all.”
This confirms that Pandora doesn’t have any immediate plans to ditch AdsWizz’s existing customer base, even though some of those are Pandora competitors.
“As a publisher, Pandora has long understood the value that a sophisticated advertising platform can bring to everyone in digital audio. We are the leader in this space, and we remain committed to serving all constituents in the ecosystem,” added Pandora CEO Roger Lynch.
“Audio is the fastest growing format in digital advertising and the marketplace is rapidly evolving,” he said. “Completing the acquisition cements our position in the future of audio, making us more ready than ever to serve publishers and brands worldwide.”
In addition to AdsWizz CEO van de Wyer, Pandora’s acquisition will add 140 people to the company from across all AdsWizz locations, including its San Mateo headquarters.