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Local Business Advertisings' New Field: Internet Radio

Written By: Doug Perlson
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The costs and difficulties involved in local advertising have always been a challenge for small businesses and entrepreneurs. But the internet, in enabling small businesses to reach a uniquely targeted audience of their most likely purchasers, has changed that. Small businesses have been given the technology that allows even the most computer-challenged owner the talent to cheaply and easily create a professional ad. As numerous business stories have shown, advertising is now a real weapon in the arsenal of any business looking to grow or just to maintain their market share.

But as opportunities like search marketing, online directories and email marketing, once the terrain of cutting-edge marketers, become commonplace, where do small businesses go to secure their competitive edge? There is, in fact, a new booming player on this scene that has already started to be a ladder to greater success, while also offering the ease and precision that small businesses have grown to expect: internet radio.

In recent years, internet radio has exhibited phenomenal listener growth. An Arbitron/Edison survey shows that online radio boosts at least 33 million unique visitors each week and 54 million each month, and continues to grow. And these listeners are part of many businesses core demographic. Surveys have shown that internet radio listeners are far more likely than either regular radio listeners or the regular internet crowd to spend money on a whole range of activities -- internet listeners vote, dine out, east fast food, grab a cup of coffee and buy items online at a much higher rate than all the other market segments. Internet radio also enables businesses to connect with consumers during work hours, where increasingly more lifestyle decisions are being made.

The best comparison point for how to fish in these waters is the path blazed by search engine marketing pioneers such as Google. The search engines hit the mother lode of advertising dollars, as they a created self-serve, relatively inexpensive advertiser interface, tied together with targeted advertising. For businesses, internet advertising took a giant leap in removing the geographic and demographic waste that is endemic in TV, billboards, newspapers or other advertising ventures. Suddenly, businesses understood they had a great method of cost-effectively reaching their core consumers.

What makes internet radio such a formidable advertising opportunity is that it is travelling down the same road as search engine marketing. Online radio matches this great pool of potential customers with an easy to use system to buy and place advertising on high quality online inventory.

Internet radio advertising is placed on the top radio stations in the country, the ones that advertisers are seeking. These stations are associated with major media companies, and are respected brands in their own right. For example, TargetSpot has over 1000 stations in its growing network, including such luminaries as all the CBS Radio stations throughout the country.

This leads into the technologically ad creation and placement advantage. TargetSpot boasts a platform that allows an inexpensive and easy-to-use system to create professional-sounding ads in a matter of minutes. The easy ad creation technology – combined with free and editable script libraries, a range of sound effects and royalty free music beds – cuts down one of the big fear factors in advertising: How much time do I have to spend to get this off the ground?

Once ads are created, it is easy to place them online. Internet radio advertising provides high quality targeting system, granting advertisers the ability to reach listeners based on their location (down to zip code), their listening preferences (such as music format or news/sports talk),  and the time they listen.  For businesses, the payoff is obvious. They now have a system that allows them to advertise without geographic and demographic waste. Internet radio also assists in brand awareness, which can be a distinct competitive advantage for businesses that want to stand out in listings, directories and even search. And, because the customers are online, many businesses can get immediate feedback by way of their websites.

From the small restaurant that promotes specials during key hours of the day, to the employment attorney who builds awareness in its local market, to the ticket exchange network that acquires new members with geographically-targeted ad creative, advertisers of all shapes and sizes are tapping into this cost-effective opportunity.

Internet radio is the perfect advertising market for any company that can not afford to waste precious ad dollars on big media campaigns, but instead must be able to hit the audience target on the first shot. For small businesses and entrepreneurs, local advertising may now become a cheap and effective way of growth.

Doug Perlson is CEO of TargetSpot, Inc., targetspot.com, the largest advertising marketplace designed for streaming audio.

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