8/21/13: Apple's iTunes Radio to launch in September

Paul Maloney
August 21, 2013 - 1:10pm

AdAge reported late yesterday that Apple's iTunes Radio webcast service will launch to the public next month, with a host of top-name advertisers to support it.

Several sources last week reported Apple will unveil its next iPhone at a special event on September 10, so it's possible the radio service will go live then (or shortly thereafter) as well.

Listeners who don't subscribe to iTunes Match can expect to hear ad campaigns from McDonald's, Nissan, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, and more. (iTunes Match subscribers will get ad-free streams.) AdAge says some advertisers will also have curated streams with fewer ads.

The service will run audio and video interstitials (videos will run when the user interacts with the player), and "slate" ads, which AdAge says are "interactive display ads that will take over whatever screen the consumer is using." Audio ads will come every 15 minutes of listening, video ads once an hour (when the user interacts with the player).

RadioInk wrote in its reader e-mail: "Imagine you are about to launch a new format -- and advertisers were falling all over themselves to be a part of it. Dream on. For radio, it's typically the opposite. Prove people listen first, then we'll buy. That's because radio is not Apple. Without any history of success or understanding of whether consumers will accept the new product, it appears several major advertisers are ready to roll out with iTunes Radio when the new platform launches this fall."

Indeed, AdAge reports the launch deals fall between "the high single-digit millions of dollars to tens of millions of dollars and include a 12 month advertising campaign..."

Read AdAge's coverage here.

Paul Maloney
August 21, 2013 - 1:10pm

Music subscription services have lately shown a greater understanding of the power and need for musical "gatekeepers" or curators to help users parse the oceans of music to discover that which they're likely to enjoy (just lately, see Spotify Browse  and Rdio Stations). In radio, of course, these wise sherpas have been called "programmers."

Beats Music (more in RAIN here) has stated that effective curation is its guiding principle as it rebuilds the Mog service (we've covered this here).

GigaOm got access to some Beats Music "internal guidance" for the musicians and freelancers who are creating playlists for the new service. These programmers are working with a web authoring system to sample songs and build playlists that Beats Music editors request (apparently focused on artists, genres, years, and listener activity -- and less than 70 minutes long).

"Beats Music definitely doesn’t want to sound like college radio. It wants human curation, but no strong DJ characters, with the exception of those well-known musicians asked to participate," writes Janko Roettgers for GigaOm. "Freelancers are told to 'beware of personal whims' and 'avoid overly clever transitions.' Oh, and 'talking down to listeners' isn’t desired, either. Record store clerks apparently don’t need to apply."

Read GigaOm here.

Paul Maloney
August 21, 2013 - 1:10pm

Radio consultant Fred Jacobs (right) today is calling for radio to "fully embrace the streaming platform," as his (and others') data show more and more regular radio listeners are tuning in online and on mobile phones. He's stressing the need to "accurately measure AM/FM streaming, merge it with usage data from broadcast radio in a format that is acceptable to agencies and buyers, and then monetize these bigger numbers."

Triton Digital COO Mike Agovino, however, thinks radio should pursue growing digital ad budgets by keeping online audience separate from AM/FM listening.

In the second installment of his "Simulcasting Debunked" blog series (we covered the first part yesterday here), Agovino (left) says he understands why broadcasters might want to consolidate audience numbers so existing staff can sell "total audience" and reduce costs. But while digital audience lacks in size compared to on-air, digital can deliver targeted ads to an audience that can be precisely measured.

"In all likelihood, 95%+ of the combined broadcast and digital audience number is generated from the broadcast estimate alone," Agovino wrote. "As a result, the combined number offers none of the benefits of digital. It is, in essence, a dumb number." Note that Agovino's company is a vendor of digital ad delivery and metrics services to the broadcast industry.

But Jacobs is asking, "What about strong radio brands that attract digital listening, but lose out on the "credit" (that is, advertising dollars) for it, because it's not counted as part of a station's audience?" 

Now it isn't necessary that Jacobs' and Agovino's positions can't be reconciled. Panelists on the RAIN Summit Orlando "The Ad-Insertion Panel" (including Agovino) will surely have some thoughts on the matter. Get more info and register for RAIN Summit Orlando here. Read Fred Jacobs' blog here; Agovino's here.