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Targeted Audio Ads: Coming to a Cellphone Near You


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Many of us grew up hearing ads on the radio, but those ads never knew where you were, what kind of radio you had, or your general demographic information.

TargetSpot, a CBS-backed venture that calls itself the nations largest internet-radio advertising network, announced deals this week with Slackers music-streaming service to bring the first-ever targeted mobile audio ads to mobile radio listeners. That's different than the targeted display advertising that already appears in mobile apps.

The audio ads will play during Slacker music streams on the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry smartphone platforms. TargetSpot also recently inked a deal with MySpace Music to include audio ads during its streams to computers, as Slacker has since 2008.

Audio advertisements, which interrupt the free version of the service every so often with a 30-second spot, are partly responsible for Pandora's success. But mobile offers a potentially more significant opportunity for advertisers as interactive radio migrates to the cellphone in addition to the computer.

Want to offer Blackberry owners free appetizers at your bar if they bring along three coworkers? Insert an ad during their commute, gym or lunchbreak listening. Slacker and Targetspot wont be the only ones trying this concept; mobile app developers have already experimented with targeted mobile display ads, and any app that works better with headphones would be a potential candidate.

However, the use of GPS data by apps must be enabled by the user on some platforms, and must have primarily beneficial features in order for Apple to approve it for the iPhone app store. In order to jump through those hoops, Slacker could offer a radio station that plays songs geo-tagged by users in a certain location, and convince both users and Apple to enable geo-location in the app. That paves the way for the delivery of audio ads.

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