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July 19, 2006

Google Audio Ads on the Horizon?

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Just how far away are Google Audio Ads? WebProNews says we’ll see them by the end of the year. Another AdSense member thinks, if history repeats itself, a beta version could be out in a just few weeks. Here’s what we know.

Last week, blogger and AdSense member Tim completed a Google survey in return for some free AdSense dollars (screenshots at his blog). Most notable for Tim was the revelation that Google intends to put advertisers directly in touch with the people creating the radio ads. He envisioned a GUI interface where advertisers input copy, select the type of voice to be used (male, female, adult, child, etc.), include points to be emphasized and then let Google ship it off to a production house for them.

Most notable for us: Last time Tim received a survey like this, a beta version of the product was released within two weeks. Now, we’re not expecting to see audio ads by the end of the month (though we wouldn’t complain if we did…), but they could be closer than originally thought.

On Monday another AdSense member noted over at SEW that he received the same survey, harking to a “new service that will connect advertisers directly to radio stations through its automated process.”

According to the survey:

“This technology seeks to simplify the sales process, scheduling, delivery and reporting of radio advertising, in an effort to help advertisers more efficiently purchase and track their campaigns. In addition, the service connects advertisers directly to creative and production talents for the creation of radio ads. By helping to increase the ease of implementation and accountability of radio spots, this platform seeks to bring greater ROI to advertisers nationwide.”

Reaching out to current advertisers is a logical and necessary next step for Google, and leads many to believe users are about to see the fruits of Google’s $100 million dollar dMarc investment.

A Google Audio Ad system would be the perfect upgrade for traditional radio and would allow radio advertisers to break into the radio medium for only a couple hundred dollars, not the $20,000 it usually costs. According to Rand Fishkin, who was one of the select few invited to attend Google’s AdSense Audio demo last month, Google will allow advertisers to dynamically generate and change commercial content according to demographic and geographic location.

The June viewing was the first time anyone saw a mature prototype for the kind of system described on the dMarc Web site.

Surprisingly, Google seems to be considering a set price model, rather than an ad auction model. The scarcity of radio ads makes me think an auction-based system would be considerably more lucrative (and more Google). After all, most people listen to radio ads when they are stuck in traffic, which happens primarily during two times of the day – morning and evening rush hour. Combine that with the limited number of radio stations, and the relatively short period that listeners are in their cars (as opposed to say, in front of a computer), and it seems like radio ads would be an auctioneer’s dream.

But I guess we’ll see, and maybe sooner than you think. Labor Day, anyone?

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