“Know What Would Make This Audiobook Better? Ads.” – Nobody, Ever. And Yet…


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Audiobook platform Audible sometimes has some great ideas. Spatial audio, in the form of Dolby Atmos support, for instance, is a great idea. Putting ads into audiobooks, though? That’s… several steps down the ladder, somewhere below ‘Comprehensible’.

It is, unfortunately, definitely happening. At the moment, it’s part of “…limited testing for non-members only that provides ad-supported access to a limited set of Audible titles.” So if you’re a paying member of the platform, your ears are safe from unexpected crypto ads while reading some Jane Austen. Probably.

Who advertises in audiobooks?

There’s no real explanation as to why Audible is doing this but the answer is obvious. Money. The company’s explanation that it is “optimizing how we deliver audio programming to listeners everywhere” and is testing “new products and services to gain knowledge about the evolving needs of our customers and partners” only contains one fact. It’s about the partners, and how those partners can absorb more cash without altering their products (beyond sticking ads in them).

The test applies to audiobooks, podcasts, and certain Audible Originals, but only a limited number of these. The ads are only being shown to a limited number of users, too. It’s important to note that the products involved in this test — the company doesn’t list them — were given the option to opt out of the test and didn’t.

Read More: Spotify now has more than 300,000 audiobooks but you have to pay for them

The audiobook ads probably won’t be too intrusive, according to Audible’s FAQ. A maximum of eight ads will be heard in 24 hours. How long they will be and how they’ll be inserted is anyone’s guess. The last thing you want from a fast-paced action section is a quick ad break so you can hear about the last thing you bought on Amazon. That’s no fun for anyone.

It’s also a distressing precedent. If some listeners will accept ads during audiobooks, then all listeners will have to deal with them. But hey, there’s more money in it for Amazon and that’s always worth it. Right?

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