Acast launches in Canada, with former CBC sales exec Heather Gordon as managing director

Global podcasting giant Acast has opened a Canadian office, its 10th, hiring former CBC/Radio-Canada digital sales director Heather Gordon as its managing director. The launch expands the company’s reach in the Americas, following its expansion across the U.S. and the launch of its Mexican operation earlier this year.

Gordon’s record in scaling podcast sales and leading strategy with major players is “unmatched,” said Brian Danzis, Acast’s managing director, Americas, in a release. “With her at the helm in Canada, we’re hitting the ground running.”

Danzis said that podcasts are increasingly becoming “borderless,” with listeners for properties often spanning multiple markets. That growth, he said, means it is becoming increasingly important to offer ad partners cross-market campaigns through its dynamic insertion capabilities.

Acast hosts, distributes and markets more than 10,000 podcasts including the hit series My Dad Wrote a Porno as well as Canadian properties like Canadian True Crime. Its portfolio also includes podcasts from publishers including CBC, the BBC, PBS Newshour, Corus, eOne, The Economist and Vogue.

The company had amassed nearly 11 million monthly listens in Canada prior to launch, and says it has generated more than $100 million in revenue for podcasters since launching in Sweden in 2014. More than 3,000 brands have used its service.

Canadians are among the world’s most avid podcast listeners, with research finding that 37% of adults listen to podcasts monthly, tied with the U.S. and ahead of countries including Australia (26%) and Germany (16%). Canada ranked slightly ahead of the U.S. in weekly listening (24% of adults versus 23%).

“The opportunity for Canadian podcasters and advertisers is ripe,” said Gordon in a release. “Acast, with its commitment to creators and its industry-leading offering for advertisers, is charting out the future of podcasting in Canada and beyond.”

Podcasting is predicted to become a $1 billion advertising business in the U.S. alone next year, and podcast companies continue to scale up their operations to meet increased marketer demand.

Earlier this week, Toronto-based podcast company Quill announced the acquisition of Origins Media Haus, a Toronto production company focused on podcasts and video. Quill said its goal is to grow an “agency umbrella” along its podcast marketplace, to begin taking shows from ideation and production to marketing.

Quill is absorbing Origins Media Haus’ team and clients, including co-founder and CEO Stephanie Andrews, who becomes Quill’s head of production. The companies have previously partnered on successful brand podcasts for companies including Field Trip Psychedelics, Axway, The Bay Street Bull and RBC.

Quill co-founder and CEO Fatima Zaidi said podcasts have the ability to attract dedicated and large audiences at a fraction of the cost of traditional media.

The company plans to launch a podcast conference in Los Angeles next year called Listen In. It will focus specifically on how businesses and brands can leverage podcasts as an avenue for content creation and advertising, with Serial co-creator and host Sarah Koenig as its headline speaker.

Chris Powell