Google tests Audio Ads for radio…but why?

Post ImageGoogle started testing their radio advertising service, dubbed Google Audio Ads, today. It’s one of the hottest topics in the blogosphere right now. We have known about it for a long time, and it sounds really great (in terms of the technology), but I still don’t get it. Let me explain.

Given this:

The radio industry won’t want to hear this. Advertising dollars are shifting online faster than analysts anticipated. In fact, advertisers will soon spend as much money on the Internet as they do on the airwaves, according to a newly released eMarketer study.

Why this?

Google Inc. has started testing a long-awaited radio advertising service…[that] will help sell advertising on more than 700 radio stations in more than 200 U.S. metropolitan markets. Google hopes to eventually sign up more than 5,000 stations, according to documents shown potential advertisers.

I can think of two potential reasons:

  1. Google wants to ease the transition for traditional advertisers looking to move online.
    I don’t know how good an argument this is, given that so many companies are already advertising online. It does make a certain amount of sense though.
  2. It’s not about radio at all. This is really Google’ first baby step towards rich media advertising on the web.
    Obviously, this is the reasoning that I prefer. Bring on audio ads for podcasting!

I suppose another alternative would be that Google feels there is still enough money to be made in radio advertising that it’s worth trying. My gut feeling though is that Google Audio Ads are destined for something far beyond just radio.

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