Google Expands Into Radio Ads

Google has begun selling radio ads in Detroit, marking the online search giant's first foray into that medium.

The move comes about six months after Google acquired dMarc, a Los Angeles-based company with an automated system for radio that allows advertisers to buy and place spots through an online interface. Google said at the time that it intended to expand radio's market to include smaller advertisers previously left out, and to make ad buys easier for companies that are already there. News that the ads had launched on one radio station in Detroit was first reported Thursday by CNET.

So far, media buyers and planners are taking a cautious approach to Google's new radio ad service. "We're anxious to see how it works in the real world," said Mary Schiemel, senior vice president and director of local broadcast for TargetCast tcm.

She added that she is waiting to see whether Google can obtain quality inventory on the leading radio stations. In the past, dMarc mainly trafficked in remnant ad inventory.

"They're telling us they're going to have all the big dogs in all the big markets, but the last time we spoke to them two weeks ago, we didn't really see that," Schiemel said. "It's not going to be useful to have third-tier stations. They need to get you into the top 10, top 15 in the market."

A Google spokesman responded that dMarc sells "a wide variety of inventory across various markets, station formats, demographics, and dayparts."

Mark Lefkowitz, executive vice president and media director at Furman Roth Advertising, said that he is also waiting for now. But, he said, Google's entry into the market could provide a much-needed boost for radio. "Google has the potential to bring a lot of new opportunities to help the radio industry, which is seemingly stalled," he said. "Google reaches a tremendous number of advertisers, large and small, that probably don't think much about using radio. From that standpoint alone, it could be helpful."

In April, Google signed an exclusive deal with Clear Channel Radio to introduce its highly successful online AdWords service to more than 1,100 of the radio titan's Web sites--but the deal didn't include any broadcast element. Meanwhile, Clear Channel executives have been tight-lipped about the prospects of Google's dMarc acquisition.

Earlier this year, Google also made inroads in traditional media with a pilot program to sell ads in magazines and newspapers. That program, however, didn't do as well as the company had hoped, Jonathan Rosenberg, Google's senior vice president for product management, said in May.

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