Audible is testing ad-supported access to select titles for non-members, the Amazon-owned audiobook company revealed on a help page on its website. The company confirmed to TechCrunch that the test is very limited and does not apply to paid members. The news was first reported by Marketing Brew.
The move indicates that the company may be exploring the possibility of an ad-based membership option. Audible declined to comment on any specific plans.
The test includes audiobooks, podcasts and Audible Originals. Audible says the test applies to a limited subsection of titles on its platform. Content providers were informed of the change and given the chance to opt out of ads. Users who are part of the test will hear a total of eight ads within a 24-hour period. Audible says it has taken additional measures to make sure that ads won’t be heard too frequently within a short time span.
“Audible is dedicated to continuously optimizing how we deliver audio programming to listeners everywhere,” the company’s help page about the test reads. “From time to time, Audible tests new products and services to gain knowledge about the evolving needs of our customers and partners.”
Audible confirmed that it’s conducting the test in a few different regions, but didn’t specify which ones. We understand that the U.S. is one of these regions, given that the help page was published on the company’s U.S. website.
The company currently offers an Audible Plus membership plan that costs $7.95 per month and includes a selection of Audible Originals, audiobooks, sleep tracks, meditation programs and podcasts. Audible also offers an Audible Premium Plus plan that costs $14.95 and includes everything available in its Plus plan in addition to one title per month from an extended selection of best sellers and new releases. It’s possible that Audible may want to grow out its current membership offerings by adding a cheaper, more affordable ad-based option in order to compete with other audiobook companies, including new entrants like Spotify.
Spotify, which is largely known for music and podcasts, expanded into the audiobooks industry back in 2021 when it acquired digital audiobook distributor Findaway. Like Audible, Spotify may also be looking to incorporate ads into its service, as Spotify Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff said last year during the company’s Investor Day event that the streaming service was “looking at bringing ad monetization into audiobooks.” The company hasn’t shared any further details on this front since then.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time that Audible has explored the possibility of ads on its platform, as the company confirmed a few years back that it was testing ads, but didn’t go live with them.