Gumball Raises $10 Million To Grow Its Podcast Ad Marketplace

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Gumball Raises $10 Million To Grow Its Podcast Ad Marketplace

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Gumball, a Los Angeles-based adtech platform allowing advertisers to place “host-read” ads on podcasts, has raised $10 million in Series A funding, it announced Tuesday.

The funding round, led by venture firms Union Square Ventures and Good Friends, takes Gumball’s total funding to date to $12 million, the startup said. Gumball plans to aggressively expand its adtech platform by adding hundreds of new shows as well as more advertisers, co-founder and CEO Marty Michael told dot.LA.

While ads read by podcast hosts are ubiquitous on the format, Gumball contends they are one of the few areas in digital marketing that haven’t been touched by technology or delivered at scale. The company’s platform allows advertisers to more easily find and buy host-read ad spots from independent podcasters, who in turn gain access to big brands. Netflix, Squarespace, AMC and LinkedIn are among the major brands that have used Gumball, according to the company.

Gumball was launched in late 2019 by the team at Headgum, an L.A.-based comedy podcast network, also co-founded by Michael, that has used the platform to sell ads on its own shows for the past two years. The idea for Gumball came as Headgum wanted to expand its podcast network and needed a solution to the archaic process of selling host-read ads, the CEO said.

“I quickly realized that to scale this operation past 30 shows, it was going to require one of two things: Either we were going to have to hire a bunch more people to support the overly manual process that goes into selling a host read ad, or we could create a technology that would support that process and automate it,” Michael said. “We decided to do the latter.”

Marketers pay to use Gumball’s platform, while the startup keeps a “small percentage” of the revenues generated by podcasters through its platform, Michael said. (He declined to share specific figures.) The company has 24 employees and aims to grow its team to at least 30 by the end of this year.

Also investing in Gumball’s Series A round were Craft Ventures, Vertical Venture Partners, Animal Capital, Calm Ventures, Gaingels and Riverside Ventures.

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