Last week when I read that Google had decided to abandon its newspaper ad sales platform, I wondered if their attempts at selling broadcast radio inventory would be next. While I was mulling this over I received a call from Kate Kaye at Clickz, who had the same thoughts and wanted to know what I thought. Thanks to Kaye for sorting through some of the history on this, you can read her article here.
Google purchased dMarc Broadcasting early in 2008 as a way to enter the terrestrial broadcasting marketplace with dMarc’s broadcast traffic automation platform. Their thinking was that they would apply a similar business model to their AdWords program, which allows smaller advertisers to purchase highly targeted ads. From the beginning they encountered problems – many broadcasters simply did not want to work with Google and would not sign over any inventory. Without inventory, the were hard pressed to say they had targetability on a local level. They did eventually get a deal with Clear Channel, and then with Emmis, and their site now says they have 1600 stations.
Stations tend to use the program to sell off remnant inventory, and as I told Clickz, there’s plenty of remnant inventory in this economic climate, which might make it easier for them to make inroads with stations.
Google has yet to enter the Internet radio market, but a company that has a similar business model in that space is Targetspot. Targetspot sells targeted ad campaigns to small businesses and sells inventory for Entercom, CBSRadio and other broadcasters. Last fall, they added a national sales strategy to their approach when they purchased National Internet Radio Rep Firm RL Radio. Recently, they’ve added more and more stations to their network. It would appear that their two pronged strategy of selling directly to local advertisers as well as using sales pros on a national level is working. They’ve succeeded in aggregating a substantial national network of inventory.
Apparently Google is staying in the broadcast radio ad sales game. Which makes me wonder whether they have begun to eye the Internet radio space as a source of inventory. In this economy, they may find a few more broadcasters interested in hearing what they have to offer.