Trackable Streaming Audio Ads Debut

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Real-time tracking of streaming audio ads just introduced by theDial, a creator of original, interactive entertainment for the Internet, has already attracted the attention of several major advertisers, including uBid and Hewlett-Packard.


The technology tracks each stream as an ad plays and sends a "ping" to the ad agency's server to record the activity. TheDial, Seattle, develops 1,300 pieces of original entertainment each month that are streamed on two dozen genre-based music channels. The company's interactive player is on 50 major Web sites, including Salon.com, InfoSpace, Women.com, The Sporting News and FortuneCity.


HP began an audio campaign this month, running ads within audio streams on the Hot Liquid Media site. Approximately 4,000 impressions were served the first week of the campaign with a 9 percent click-through rate. Just a few days into the second week at press time, 1,130 impressions were served, for a 6 percent click-through rate.


HP is promoting its HPShopping site with audio ads that announce computer hardware on sale for the Christmas season.


"Our entire business philosophy is offering many forms of alternative advertising as a value add to our clients," said Justin Fortune, Hot Liquid Media's president. "TheDial has a good variety of programming, and we found our site was getting a lot of traffic to begin with. It was only natural that we added radio programming and a new ad medium for our advertisers."


Hot Liquid Media is primarily in the business of creating ads on hot beverage cup holders. HLM's ads include the company's URL, www.hotliquidmedia.com, which Fortune said is responsible for the heavy traffic it receives. He declined to reveal traffic numbers but said people who see the cup holder ads stay on the site for four minutes to eight minutes per visit.


Ed Bruno, theDial's vice president of marketing, said its new tracking technology provides what online advertisers need most: verifiable metrics.


"It's the kind of feedback that traditional media can only aspire to with sampling, polling and other statistical guesswork," he said. "Verification has been available on banner ads for about a year or two, but never before with streaming media. However, with the increasing availability of broadband access and advances in multimedia, streaming media is becoming the format of choice on the Web."


Because the technology tracks audio advertising performance with verifiable data, he said, advertisers, ad agencies and ad networks can measure the cost-effectiveness of streaming media ads by the same cost-per-thousand standard used by other Internet advertising methods. Agencies have typically been reluctant to add streamed audio to their media mix because this has not been available.


"So many advertising agencies have stood by waiting for the 'ping' to be incorporated in the streaming solution," said Graham Keenan, president of Interep New Media. "TheDial's ability to solve this dilemma will go a long way to capturing CPM revenues from these shops."


TheDial initially launched the technology in October, providing ping data to customers such as Hewlett-Packard and uBid. Traditional bricks-and-mortar companies, including Sears, Folgers and NextCard Visa, are also among theDial's advertisers.


Bruno said advertisers on theDial receive an average click-through rate of 5.46 percent, much higher than the sub-0.5 percent click-through rate of banner ads. Audio ads on theDial are streamed for 15 seconds along with original entertainment and news interspersed across two dozen genre-based music channels. Listeners can respond to ads by using theDial Player's interactive features, which link them directly to the point of purchase or to additional information, depending on the advertiser's goal.


TheDial is available to an estimated audience of 50 million Internet users on 47 affiliate sites nationwide
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