Audible is now testing ads in your audiobooks for some reason

It’s an experiment with non-paying users, for the time being.


Amazon-owned Audible has started putting ads in audiobooks, potentially indicating a sea change within the industry. The company says it is “conducting limited testing” on a select user base with the advertisements and that this step is currently reserved for non-paying members, giving them “ad-supported access to a limited set” of titles. For now at least, paying subscribers seem immune to the change.

The ads pop up while listening to traditional audiobooks, podcasts and Audible original content. The company says the providers were informed of the change and given the chance to opt out of ads. Audible notes that a maximum of eight ads will play within a 24-hour period, regardless of what you are listening to. That isn’t so bad, but does set a troubling precedent for many ad-averse consumers.

As to why this test was taking place at all, the company's help page offers nothing but empty buzzwords. “Audible is dedicated to continuously optimizing how we deliver audio programming to listeners everywhere,” it states. “From time to time, Audible tests new products and services to gain knowledge about the evolving needs of our customers and partners.” Thanks for clarifying!

Does this mean an ad-supported subscription tier is forthcoming? Engadget has reached out to Audible for some clarification on this move but has yet to hear back. We will update this post when we do.

Customers have long grown-accustomed to paying for audiobooks in exchange for a pure ad-free experience, but maybe that is slowly changing. A couple of years back, Spotify purchased audiobook distributor Findaway for $119 million and, a year later, former Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff suggested that the company was “looking at bringing ad monetization into audiobooks.”