Startup Cries Foul at Google's New Radio Ads Product

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Voices.com CEO David Ciccarelli is crying foul at part of Google’s new radio ad product, which is in beta testing with select Google Adwords customers. Through partnerships with hundreds of radio stations, Google will offer customers the ability to bid on radio spots, and target ads by geography, station type, listener demographics and time of day.

But Google isn’t stopping at the sale, placement and tracking of radio spots. They are also assisting customers in the process of creating the ads themselves. The overall product looks very similar to what Spot Runner (mentioned here) is doing in the television space. From a recent CNET article on Google Radio Ads:

Google is also testing a program that will link up inexperienced radio marketers with professionals who can help them create a radio ad. Google Audio Ads beta tester Richard Swezey, executive vice president of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Bedlounge.com, said he is using that program, which Google called an “ad creative marketplace,” to get help in creating a radio ad to sell portable recliner pillows.

“Within 12 hours of submitting the bid, we got back a completed ad based on relatively scant information,” he said. “For a first shot, we were blown away by it.”

The minimum price for a bid is $100 and his bid was $300, Swezey said.

It’s that last bit that has Ciccarelli up in arms. Voices.com has been helping to match advertisers with voice talent and ad production for the last couple of years. He claims the Google ad product is nearly identical, although he hasn’t seen it yet and has nothing to go on but the CNET quote above. But he also says that for the last couple of months traffic to the site from Mountain View (where Google is headquartered) has gone through the roof, accounting for about 5% of total voices.com traffic. He’s suggesting that Google has scoured the voices.com site to figure out what to copy in the Voices.com business model.

Most people will tell Ciccarelli to suck it up and not complain about this. Copying is just flattery, after all, and there’s nothing he can do about it besides try and innovate faster than Google can (See YouTube).

And something else that needs to be considered is the possibility that Google hasn’t bothered looking at Voices.com at all. The core product was developed by a company that Google acquired a year ago called dMarc, which is still located in Newport Beach, California, about 350 miles south of Mountain View.

It’ll be interesting to see what people think about this in the comments.

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