DigaCast Hopes to Embed Audio Ads in E-Mail

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Text-based advertisements in e-mail messages may be easy to ignore, but San Francisco-based DigaCast thinks it has hit on a better way to get marketing messages across using the medium -- audio ads.

DigaCast, a company that develops technology for broadband media, is beta testing two services that will initially allow online broadcasters -- and eventually marketers -- to easily insert and manage the distribution of MP3-format audio advertisements.

Using the company's services, called Ad Mint and Ad Mint Mail, broadcasters can turn MP3 broadcast streams into advertising vehicles. By licensing the technology or agreeing to split the revenues, broadcasters using Ad Mint can run up to 12 audio ads per hour, DigaCast said.

With Ad Mint Mail, broadcasters and content publishers can insert ads for merchandise related to a particular artist, for example, so that listeners will hear the ad after downloading one of the artist's songs. A pop-up box will open, offering them the product.

DigaCast is testing the service inhouse through its network of online radio stations. The company operates 10 digital music stations through its BigRadio network. DigaCast developed the BigRadio player for streaming audio that works with MP3, Windows Media or Real Networks' media. The player displays synchronized banner advertisements, which the company claims can generate a CPM of $40 to $50.

According to Michael Addicot, president of DigaCast, broadcasters can create a play list of MP3 files and can intersperse ads between individual songs.

"Through Ad Mint, consumers listening to a series of songs or a play list would hear audio ads interspersed," he said. "Using Ad Mint Mail, content publishers can even e-mail short broadcasts or play lists consisting of a single track while inserting a gateway or promotional ad."

DigaCast is now talking with marketers about possibly licensing the technology, Addicot said. He would not reveal which marketers the company is talking to but noted that a major Internet portal is among them. He also said he is talking to a ad rep firms about the technology.

"This creates a new channel for advertisers," Addicot said. "Our beta customers are telling us that Ad Mint is going to have a big impact on streaming media, spanning the gap between advertisers, interactive ad rep firms, and broadcasters and content publishers."

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