Digital Audio Draws New Investment; Amazon Taps Rite-Aid For In-Store Pickup

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Wondery-ful 

A spree of acquisitions of podcasting and streaming audio ad tech startups by Spotify, Pandora and iHeartMedia has somewhat consolidated the category, but the independent market is still growing. Podcast production network Wondery raised $10 million last week at a valuation of more than $100 million. Podcast ad revenues in the United States grew 53% last year to $479 million and are expected to surpass $1 billion by 2021, according to the IAB and PwC. Wondery is the fourth-largest podcast publisher and has created shows such as “Dirty John,” which went on to become a TV program on Bravo. The company, on track to hit $25 million in revenue this year, will use the funds to expand to new international markets, The Wall Street Journal reports. “Podcasts are growing faster than anybody expected both from total listening as well as total advertising revenue,” said Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez. More.

Brick By Brick

Amazon has expanded a pilot program allowing people to pick up their online orders in participating stores to the North America region, with Rite Aid as the first brick-and-mortar partner, Internet Retailer reports. The program, called Counter, is similar to the Amazon lockers; both show up as a delivery option on the checkout page. “Being the first store partner for Counter in the US is a differentiator for Rite Aid and we believe our partnership with Amazon, that includes Locker, creates a stronger in-store experience,” said Jocelyn Konrad, Amazon’s EVP of retail and pharmacy operations. Kohl’s got a lot of value out of a deal with Amazon to be the ecommerce leader’s first major US retail partner to take returns at store locations. At the time, many in the industry considered the Amazon-Kohl’s deal a Trojan horse. But many have come around on dealing with Amazon, and see these kinds of pick-up or drop-off partnerships as a way to increase foot traffic. More.

Bellyaching

Mobile platforms have disintermediated everything from brands to newspapers, politicians to movie studios. Now you can add restaurants to the list. The biggest online ordering company is Grubhub, which charges restaurants a transaction fee and fees for marketing services. But the company is getting some pushback from restaurant owners. For one thing, Grubhub has purchased domain names for more than 23,000 locations that, unbeknownst to diners or the real restaurant owners, were siphoning search traffic into Grubhub-owned affiliate channels, The New Food Economy reports. Grubhub gets a lower fee on traffic from a restaurant's real site. Grubhub also displays fake phone numbers that redirect through the app’s call service, enabling it to claim fees as high as 30% even if users think they’re ordering directly from a restaurant. More.

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