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Bummer of the Month: Google Decides to Kill Google Audio - Dealers Lose Best Radio Advertising Buying Resource They Ever Had!

In the midst of all the troubling economic news that seems to come out every day, this piece not only bothers me quite a bit, but is quite unexpected. Last month when Google announced they were getting rid of Google Print, which allowed many dealers to buy Newspaper Advertising space at far below the normal costs, I looked on the list of services Google was discontinuing... And, breathed a sigh of relief that Google Audio was not on it... Then, along comes the Google Blog posting below. For anybody in the car business that has never tried Google Audio, I can only say that you should get in there and try it before the end of May 2009 when it goes away. Dealers I have spoken to and worked with currently spend over $500K a month getting about $2M a month worth of Radio station advertising spots... Maybe that's why Google has to kill Google Audio... Me and my dealer friends have all been paying too little for the prime time, morning and afternoon drive times in major metros all over the USA! Here's the original Blog post put up by Google:

Google Exits Radio but Will Explore Online Streaming Audio

Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:49 AM

At Google we've never shied away from high-risk, high-reward projects. We believe that making big bets is not only in the best interests of our users and partners, but also important for our long term success. In 2006, we launched Google Audio Ads and Google Radio Automation to create a new revenue stream for broadcast radio, produce more relevant advertising for listeners and streamline the buying and selling of radio ads. While we've devoted substantial resources to developing these products and learned a lot along the way, we haven't had the impact we hoped for.

So we have decided to exit the broadcast radio business and focus our efforts in online streaming audio. We will phase out the existing Google Audio Ads and AdSense for Audio products and plan to sell the Google Radio Automation business, the software that automates broadcast radio programming. Advertisers will continue to be able to use Google Audio Ads until May 31 and broadcasters will be able to publish inventory to Google until that date as well. We will work with partners to make sure that there is as little disruption to their business as possible and will work to find a buyer for the Google Radio Automation business.

Instead we will use our technology to develop Internet-based solutions that will deliver relevant ads for online streaming audio. We are dedicating a team of people at Google to explore how we can best add value for advertisers, broadcasters and listeners in this emerging advertising space. In addition, we will continue to invest in our growing TV advertising business, where we can measure audience response and help advertisers understand how effective their ads are.

We regret the impact these plans will have on the Googlers working on these projects. We hope to find other roles for the majority of the people concerned and will work to make that happen over the next couple of months. However, given that we are exiting the broadcast radio ad business and selling the Radio Automation business, we expect that up to 40 people may not be able to find other roles at Google.

We have always accepted that if you take risks not all of them will pay off. Deciding to close products is never easy, but we will continue to focus on advertising products that provide measurability for advertisers, and are relevant and useful for users, listeners and viewers.

Posted by Susan Wojcicki, VP, Product Management, Google, Inc.
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Tags: Google, Google Adwords, Google Audio, Radio Advertising

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Comment by Ralph Paglia on June 4, 2009 at 6:33am
Jeff, I just saw your generous offer for the first time and have since raised my bid submitted to Google... Of course, as many know on May 31, 2009 the last Google Audio purchased radio spot aired, and I am proud to say that it was a spot placed by ADP Digital Marketing on behalf of a car dealer... We have since moved on to using "Bid4Spots.com" and in many ways we are happy with the transition. There are challenges with Bid4Spots based on the fact that it originated with Radio so it is geared towards the Radio stations and less towards the digital marketing side of things, but it is a high value service and our dealers seem happier with the mix of stations we now have available.
Comment by Jeff Kershner on February 17, 2009 at 9:56am
Ralph, I'll chip in $457.25 to round those numbers out to an even $20,000.00, but I want a cut!!
Comment by Al Hall on February 16, 2009 at 5:39am
Real nice of them to keep you, a major customer, in the loop by the way.

Makes you wonder a little.
Comment by Al Hall on February 16, 2009 at 5:38am
This has to hurt. Wasn't this a big piece of ADP's Digital Marketing offering?
Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 15, 2009 at 4:58pm
To Chuck Wood,

After several meetings with Google Audio people this past week, I am convinced that their decision was less impacted by profitability factors and more influenced by a strategy that requires more focus and the allocation of internal resources into areas where the market is growing rather than shrinking... There is a lot of evidence to support the long run trend of declining total radio spend. Some of these reasons include all the various ways the amount of time people listen to terrestrial broadcast radio is being eroded... Satellite Radio, iPod players in cars, Internet access now coming built into vehicle central computer systems, etc. When Google looks at all these factors, and they look at the VERY talented marketing people and resources that went into Google Audio, I believe they simply concluded that their long term best interests were better served by changing focus to TV and Video, and moving away from the distraction that Google Audio created for some of their best people. I know that Google Audio revenue was growing monthly, and that they were one of Clear Channel Communication's best distribution partners. That's who I think will be a strong contender to buy Google Audio, Clear Channel Communications... Or, they should be except that they are weeks away from financial meltdown themselves!

Again, I will make an official offer and commitment on the part of Ralph Richard Paglia, right here and right now... I am willing to pay Google as much as $19,542.75 in CASH to buy Google Audio right now... Maybe even more if I can sell my 2002 Ford Expedition and my 2006 Chevy HHR right away... Oh, and if anyone wants to buy one of about 15 different computer systems, I could get my offer up over $20K... Now we're talking REAL money, no financing required!
Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 15, 2009 at 4:48pm
Tim,

Thank you for the good advice... If I can't get ADP to buy Google Audio, then there is only one logical move... Using Digital Marketing buying and targeting tools to get dealership TV commercials created, distributed and on their local cable and satellite TV stations at a dramatic savings versus traditional methods... I think YOU certainly know where I am going for this new strategy!

Also, we have already begun looking at Google Audio's competitors... There's nothing like a few million dollars a year in radio spots during a recession to help a smaller company sign up more radio stations...
Comment by Tim Jennings on February 15, 2009 at 4:09pm
Sorry to hear about this Ralph. I feel your passion. BUT Don’t jump! Come down from the on the ledge! You will find another digital marking strategy that is new and innovative. This stuff is like an easter egg hunt for you. Thanks for sharing, see ya in Vegas.
Comment by nancy slauson on February 15, 2009 at 12:51pm
Ralph: Good solution to a potential loss. Don't give up on your little bit of "crazy". Sometimes a little crazy makes big things happen!
Comment by Chuck Wood on February 15, 2009 at 7:20am
Hi Ralph,

It is really troubling to see the slashing of technologies that make us more efficient. Why wouldn't Google just simply charge more for this I wonder as opposed to just getting rid of it? They must have analyzed it and determined that the current price structure was already at the profit maximization point (I guess).

How are we supposed to get out of this thing if we can't use technology to get more efficient? Very troubling indeed!
Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 14, 2009 at 7:28pm
In response to Jeff Kershner's question about ADP and Google Adwords... YES, Google Audio has been a major success for ADP Digital Marketing... We have been told several times by Google that ADP is the #1 reseller of Google Audio. However, that is part of the problem. I figured out in 2005 what an incredible value Google Audio is, and not all of that value being related to price. ADP Digital Marketing has sold millions of dollars worth of Google Audio and the dealers who got the most value from it did so because they realized the capabilities were so far more advanced than using traditional methods for placing radio advertising, that it gave them a competitive edge... Our growth rate of selling Google Audio has been almost a consistent doubling of volume every month! Think about it, a dealer can give us a dozen 30 second spots and we can have them queued up with 20 radio stations in the dealer's market. As conditions, incentives, weather, news or whatever you can imagine changes, we can switch those spots around in 5 minutes and be live on the air with a different message... We were able to set up radio spots that were triggered when it rained, or snowed, when the sun comes out, when the stock market goes up, or goes down... We could saturate a market areas during AM drive time with free car washes between noon and 2PM, and then between 4PM and 6PM with every test drive. Google Audio was the ultimate in Guerrilla Marketing strategies for Radio... And, now this recession is taking it away from us! This one really hurts... I am trying to get ADP to buy Google Audio and keep it alive... I know it is a crazy idea, but crazy never stopped me from trying to get something to happen!

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