Mobile Audio

There's a reason why radio and outdoor (billboard) advertising together became a $30bn to $50bn annual domestic market. When people are mobile, like driving a car, they are not reading, they are not watching video, they are not opening email. At least they should not be doing those sorts of things while driving a car.

While radio and billboards will still be attractive advertising opportunities for some time to come, there is a new way to reach the mobile consumer – on his or her phone.

I'm not talking about calling you or text messaging you on your phone. I am talking about when you connect your android phone into your car's audio jack or when you put on your iPhone headphones and hop on the treadmill at the gym.

In these situations, you are likely listening to audio and increasingly streaming audio. That audio stream can contain commercial messaging if it is done right. And because the phone, as opposed to the car radio or the billboard, knows a lot about you, including where you are, the messaging can be targeted (ie made relevant).

This is the opportunity our portfolio company TargetSpot was built to go after. When the company was started, it decided to focus on terrestrial radio companies and help them monetize their internet streams. It is the leader in that market today. Then it added "pure play internet radio" providers like Yahoo! Music, MySpace Music, and AOL Radio to it's network and further solidified its lead.

And today, TargetSpot is rolling out its first mobile audio advertising service, in partnership with Slacker. If you want to reach people who are listening to streaming audio via their phones in their cars, in the gym, at work, and at home you now can do that via TargetSpot.

Slacker is one of several streaming audio companies focused on the mobile phone. Others include Pandora and Last.fm. I expect we'll see hundreds of providers over time.

And I expect that we'll find out that the audio format is one of the most powerful forms of mobile advertising. Just like it has been in the offline world for the past century.

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