Streaming music service Slacker is readying an on-demand streaming service for launch, according to a report by Wired. Slacker’s current offerings include interactive streams as well as pre-formatted channels. The service launched in 2007 with a dedicated portable device that could have, would have been a unique selling tool for the platform if streaming apps on smartphones hadn’t started to soar. Instead, Slacker abandoned the dedicated mobile device strategy and turned its attention to mobile apps. It’s available on iPhone, Android, Blackberry and other popular off-the-pc devices.
The new service will reportedly allow for an even greater degree of listener interactivity. The station already allows more interactivity than Pandora – listeners can add specific songs to their stations or playlists, while Pandora only permits adding artists. For five bucks a month, listeners can also nix audio ads, add unlimited song skips and requests.
Slacker intends to use the service to upsell its audience to a more premium offering that gives them greater control over their music. There’s no word on how much the service will cost.
During a panel that I hosted in Toronto at RAIN Summit North on March 12th, Slacker VP Jim Rondinelli indicated that ad sales have been healthy for Slacker. He noted that over the past year, they have sold almost all of their audio inventory through audio sales firm Targetspot as well as through Google’s Audio/Adsense platform.
No doubt, the launch of a highly interactive service is a move to position themselves against Pandora, the most popular streaming radio platform, as well as a few new services. MOG is an on-demand streaming service that costs $5 a month for unlimited streaming of whatever you want to hear. Last week they announced new mobile apps for iPhone and Android, upping the ante for the service that had previously been tethered to pc’s. Spotify is another on-demand streaming service that – although they have yet to launch here in the states – Slacker no doubt has on its radar…
Ando Media and Spacial Audio, two of the largest Internet radio advertising technology platforms, announced a merger yesterday. It’s a pairing that makes a lot of sense, given that Ando Media’s list of client stations was largely streaming broadcasters, while Spacial Audio’s client list was largely online streaming stations. Ando Media, working with over 6,500 affiliates, has become the leader in audience measurement with its Webcast Metrics audience measurement product. Ando also provides ad replacement technology for terrestrial broadcasters. Spacial Audio has been the leader in providing automation, ad-insertion and an array of other digital services to primarily pure-play webcasters.
“This merger brings together the strength of Ando’s more terrestrial customer base with Spacial’s large Internet-only base,” said Bob Maccini, Ando CEO. “Together, we now are working across the entire spectrum to drive the streaming audio category to new levels.”
Spacial CTO and co-founder Louis Louw said, “The complementary nature of our technologies will allow each company to offer expanded capabilities to our established customer bases.”
It’s true, the two companies have similar capabilities, but while Ando Media’s system had been designed for and marketed to streaming broadcasters, Spacial Audio’s technology provides similar tools to online brands.
Both companies have also had some strategic successes this year that helped them emerge as significant players in the marketplace. Ando Media’s Webcast Metrics has recently emerged as the defacto choice for Internet radio audience measurement, adding Targetspot and Pandora in addition to their existing long list of clients. Meanwhile, Spacial Audio partnered with Google Audio last spring to offer its stations the chance to work with that platform.
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.