MySpace Music will run instream audio ads sold by national Internet radio sales company Targetspot. According to reports, the audio ads began running last week for advertisers like Turbo Tax and Office Depot. The ads are inserted after a listener hears one song, and can be followed by a complete album or up to 100 songs on a playlist without another interruption.
Targetspot has announced that this is an exclusive deal that adds MySpace Music’s audience to a network that includes AOL, CBS, Yahoo!, Slacker and Live 365.
Since MySpace Music’s launch in September 2008, unique visitors to the music.myspace.com subdomain have increased 190 percent — growing from 4.2 million unique visitors to 12.1 million in June 2009. Year-over-year traffic to the URL has increased 1,017 percent. Since June, MySpace acquired social music site iLike, and later added imeem to its platform as well. MySpace Music was an announced key partner in Google Music’s music discovery platform.
This is great news for CBS backed Targetspot, and for the Internet radio industry. Last fall Pandora announced that they were beginning to air instream audio ads. It’s important for the development of a successful business model for Internet radio that key platforms like Pandora and MySpace Music contribute to creating that business model by running audio ads and creating more and better opportunities for advertisers on their platforms.
Vevo, the music video site powered by Youtube launches today. The site will feature videos from three of the four major record labels – Sony, Universal and EMI. Warner Music Group is the only one not working with Vevo, although they are working with YouTube.
Professionally produced music videos are the most popular content viewed on YouTube. Now Vevo will offer music fans music video content, along with an online music store offering music downloads, merchandise created by artists, concert tickets and more. In the future a music video subscription service, offering both short videos as well as streamed concerts is likely to be added.
Vevo has announced a pre-launch partnership with CBS Interactive and will offer extensive music programming from the vaults of the CBS Interactive Music Group’s properties including Last.fm and more than 90 CBS RADIO music stations beginning next year. “Last.fm and CBS RADIO’s stations are producing a tremendous amount of unique video content every day – from long form concerts such as the “Live on Letterman” webcast series and annual special events, to acoustic performances and one on one interviews,” says David Goodman, President of CBS Interactive Music Group. “We’re excited to be part of the next generation of music video services, and look forward to all the benefits that go along with Vevo’s massive audience and reach including increased awareness of our efforts in this space to new revenue generating opportunities.”
The combination of high quality video along with lyrics and access to lots of information on favorite artists is expected to appeal to advertisers and command top dollars. The site will launch with partnerships with AT&T, McDonalds and Mastercard.
In October, CBS will begin integrating Last.fm into its broadcast radio offerings when it launches an all new station to be broadcast on CBS RADIO’s HD multicast stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco and streamed online. CBS says its the first time a music website has been transformed into its own broadcast entity.
“Last.fm’s newest initiative is a novel way for the CBS Interactive Music Group to exercise its radio programming knowledge with a fresh and innovative approach,” said David Goodman, President, CBS Interactive Music Group. “Last.fm has a large and loyal following both here and abroad, and we’re thrilled to be taking this step to expose additional listeners to the world class service.”
The new Last.fm station will feature an eclectic mix of music aggregated and influenced by the service’s user-generated weekly charts, combined with live performances and interviews from the Last.fm studios in New York, and event updates. The new station will expose audiences to underground, breaking and established artists and songs popular with Last.fm’s more than 25 million monthly users.
Last.fm is a social music streaming service where listeners can build stations and recommend them to friends. The music played on this new station will be influenced by what people are listening to on their personalized stations on Last.fm.
Why not? This is an idea that works for a bunch of reasons. Last.fm is a popular music site with a large online following – so why not extend its reach onto another platform such as HD. It makes Last.fm a bigger brand. CBS has the channels, and has made the investment in the HD technology, so this gives them a great source of hot new programming while branding their premier online station Last.fm with a new group of listeners.
I’m not a big believer in HD Radio as much more than a way to diversify over the air programming. (Ultimately, I don’t think it grows radio’s audience.) But broadcasters like CBS are already in pretty deep with the technology, so kudos to Goodman and CBS for coming up with some hip creative programming that highlights all that CBS has to offer.
Wizzard Media, the largest podcast network, has made it easier for broadcasters to monetize podcasts with its newly announced partnership with Ando Media for ad measurement and ad insertion. Wizzard provides hosting and ad insertion services to podcast content providers, and broadcasts millions of podcast impressions each day. They currently distribute about a third of the top 400 podcasts on Itunes (the main source for podcast content).
“Podcast audiences comprise the smartest, most product-aware consumer demographic in the world, with most downloads passingthrough Apple’s iTunes service. We’re excited to work with Ando Media and their ad partners to target specific products to the right buyers,” said Wizzard CEO, Chris Spencer. Non-intrusive advertisements will be stitched to the beginning, middle or end of participating audio podcast programming in the Wizzard network that now includes over 17,000 content producers and over 1.2 billion download requests per year.
Interest in listening to podcasts is growing, according to research by Pew Internet and American Life Project. Nearly one out of every five adults (19%) have downloaded and listened to a podcast, and that number is up from 12% in 2006. (See chart from my earlier post here.) Wizzard Media hosts content and received an average of 2.75 million requests for podcast episodes per day in 2007, a nearly 300% increase over the daily average in 2006. WCBS sees 700-800,000 downloads a month and significant revenue from its podcast content. (reported earlier here.)
Podcasts are an excellent opportunity for broadcasters, who already produce lots of unique content, to connect with their audience in a highly engaging form. Because the listener selects, subscribes, and downloads the content to listen, the content-to-listener connection is greater. Podcasts should be sold as a more engaging, hyper-targeted medium. Distributors like Wizzard Media provide easy platforms for audio content to be distributed and monetized.
In an article in today’s Radio Business Report, Kevin Conroy, Executive Vice President at AOL, says that their association with CBS RADIO, which began in March, has been very successful. Conroy elaborates on the elements of the relationship that made it so, and has some words of advice for the industry.
With the partnership, AOL gained the benefits of CBS Radio’s core competency in radio, while CBS gained the benefits of AOL’s successful online platform with more than 10 million unique visitors per month. Together, they developed some platform extensions which improve the listener experience and will further expand the listener base. Those include a media player with increased functionality and listener choices, widgets and tool bars that expand access to social network sites, and what Conroy refers to as a breakthrough app for the iphone.
It’s been a groundbreaking year for both companies and for online radio, according to Conroy, who says the lesson to take away from their success this year is ” that by carefully watching market trends, being willing to rethink your business, focusing on your core competencies, and delivering what consumers want most, you can achieve a remarkable turnaround against seemingly insurmountable odds.”
It’s an excellent message. AOL and CBS did indeed put aside what could have been perceived as head to head competition, and instead created a partnership that focused on building a better listener experience. That’s made AOL and Kevin Conroy happy, and I suspect it’s made CBS happy as well…