Absolute Radio sets date for targeted ads in streaming

Absolute Radio is set to offer the ability to target ads at cross-sections of listeners streaming its services through an Absolute Radio account in February, according to head of digital sales James Wigley.

Speaking to Media Week at Absolute Radio's Redefining Radio event at the House of Commons yesterday, Wigley revealed Absolute Radio is going to launch the new service on 19 February.

As part of its expansion into digital Absolute Radio launched its Absolute Radio account last summer and since launch 107,000 Absolute Radio account holders have been created or upgraded.

At the event Wigley demonstrated how car marque Lexus will synchronise visual ads on the Absolute Radio online player with targeted audio ads and said the new service will mean listeners will be served two ads per break rather than seven.

Lexus and its media agency ZenithOptimedia will be part of trials ahead of the full February launch and advertisers will be able to target their campaigns to listeners by active location, age and gender.

Other speakers at the event for 150 executives from media agencies, creative agencies advertisers and partners included: Ed Vaizey, the communications minister; Clive Dickens, chief operating officer at Absolute Radio; Karla Geci, head of strategic partner development at Facebook; Rohan Oommen, general manager, Xbox Live, Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Microsoft; Dave Gorman, the comedian and Absolute Radio presenter; and Tim Davie, head of audio and music at the BBC.

Vaizey opened the session with an upbeat message for the industry, saying he was "very excited about digital radio and very excited about the progress made".

He said: "The great thing about radio is that you can do almost anything else while listening to radio. The fact Tim Davie is here shows how the BBC and commercial radio are working in harmony together about the future of digital radio."

Davie tackled questions about the absence of radio in his job title. He replied: "Unlike the word radio, audio is not device bound. With some regret we are moving to a screen world. Radio needs to accept that and get on with it and enjoy it."

Oommen, in his speech, compared the experience of Xbox, which has diversified from a standard games console to a wider entertainment console for the whole family, to the issues radio is facing.

He said: "We were not the first games console to launch but we were the first one to include connectivity online. We wanted to create a platform that was able [to serve] other forms of media."

Wigley said Absolute Radio's network had its "biggest ever" combined weekly active app users figure during the Christmas break at 124,400, up 19% on the average number of weekly active mobile users across the network in Q4 2011.

Full videos from the event available on Absolute Radio's blog and an extended review of some key sessions here.

Follow Maisie McCabe on Twitter @MaisieMcCabe

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