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Clear Channel Is Excited About In-Context Advertising

Hogan says 'We just leveled a very lucrative playing field'

Clear Channel has launched something it believes is a first: contextual advertising that lets broadcast radio ads be placed in relation to either content or other ads.

It notes that Google, other Internet providers and television broadcasters can place against content, but: “We don’t think any medium is also placing against other ads,” a PR official said in releasing the announcement. The company believes this tool will help broadcast radio compete better with the Internet.

“Clear Channel Radio today announced the ability to automatically and reliably insert any length of audio spot immediately after specific programming or commercial spots based entirely on content,” it announced.

“Called ‘contextual advertising’ or ‘semantic advertising,’ the ability has previously been available only to Internet advertisers based on text content and is credited as a major driver of the Internet growth and success. In preliminary operation for the past year, the proprietary Clear Channel Radio service is now available to all national advertisers.”

Advertisers piloting the system include Visa, Geico and Wal-Mart. The announcement was made by Radio President/CEO John Hogan, who said the company has been working on this for months with agencies for the pilot clients.

Here are details as cited by Clear Channel:

“One of the campaigns paired ads with programming content. To support Wal-Mart’s exclusive retail sales contract for AC/DC’s highly anticipated Black Ice album last fall, MediaVest and Clear Channel Radio devised a program where a Wal-Mart ad for the album would run immediately after an AC/DC song was played on a selection of 106 Rock AC and album-oriented rock stations in 91 markets. If no AC/DC song was currently on the station’s playlist, the 30-second spot appeared after a song by a similar artist.

“Wal-Mart moved 784,000 copies of the album during its first week in stores: the second-largest debut week for a new album to date in 2009, according to Billboard magazine,” Clear Channel stated.

“Two other programs paired ads with the content of other ads,” it continued.

“Horizon Media’s contextual campaign for Geico played strongly on the company’s ‘save 15%’ theme in three ways. First, the campaign dynamically placed custom 15-second ads for the insurer after ads from vehicle makers (including autos, motorcycles, RVs and others) and auto dealers. Second, the ads were run at :15 past the hour during each hour of the coveted morning drive (6:15 a.m., 7:15 a.m., 8:15 a.m., 9:15 a.m.). And third, the contextual reference carried through in the creative, reminding listeners that ‘since it’s now 15 after the hour, there’s no better time than now to spend the next 15 minutes saving 15% with Geico.’ For added impact, Clear Channel stations aired a paid 60-second GEICO commercial after the custom :15,” it stated.

Finally, “A turnkey campaign developed by Clear Channel Radio and OMD for VISA paired quick-hitting, 15-second spots with appropriate merchant messages — for Visa that meant more than 25,000 merchant messages in more than 120 markets. The result was five times the number of gross ratings points as Visa had been seeing with its morning television advertising (television dollars were diverted to radio to fund the campaign); and a 10% rise in short-term volume through Visa’s network compared to the same period the previous year. Visa ultimately singled out the campaign as a company-wide best practice.”