Bill Hartzer

Text Ads Coming to a Radio Near You

Yes, you’ve read the title of this post right. It looks to me like text ads are coming to a radio (most likely your car radio), sooner than you might think. In fact, I’ve spotted a text ad today on my own car radio while driving down the road.

For a while now, many car radios are equipped with the ability to tell you the name of the artist and the name of the song that’s playing. If you are in a major radio market, most likely your local radio station broadcasts a signal that your car radio receives–it tells you the name of the artist, the name of the song, and most likely which radio station you’re listening to.

Some radio stations only show the name of the radio station and/or their call letters. And some radio stations even tell you the name of their web site: 103.7 KVIL in Dallas, Texas from time to time shows their url: actually shows up on my car radio from time to time. But, it looks like some radio stations are using this text technology to their advantage: I spotted 100.3 Jack FM in Dallas, Texas “pitching” an upcoming concert on August 4th right there on my car radio: They’re calling this upcoming concert “the big show” or “Jack’s Big Show”.

I’ve captured a video of this text ad as it appears on my car radio–the ad text is “Get Tickets for Jack’s Big Show NOW!!”

With a little ingenuity, I could see these types of ads appearing on local radio stations’ text displays right in your car. For example, what if you’re driving down the road on your local commute in the morning and saw a text ad on your car radio that said this:

Need More Coffee? Stop By 7-11 for Gourmet Coffee!

Radio stations could sell these text ads to local advertisers–or they could be sold specifically to a national market, depending on the reach of the radio station’s owner. Companies like Clear Channel own lots of radio stations, and selling a text ad on everyone’s car radio could be an option—if you’re a potential advertiser, would you buy this type of advertising? It actually could be a gold mine for certain companies wanting to reach thousands of people. The text ad on our car radios would be subtle, but would get the eyes of drivers everywhere.

What if you own a pizza place? What about running a text ad in your local market via the radio? Would a text ad like this make sense for an advertiser during the afternoon drive time?

What’s for Dinner? Try Domino’s Pizza tonight!!

Right now I haven’t investigated the numbers of vehicles on the road right now that have this technology. Many new cars, especially the cars that have a satellite radio installed in the dash, have the text ad capability–the individual radio stations would need to price the text ad and do some testing–I would be that 100.3 Jack FM has some numbers about the type of response they’re getting from the text ads that they’re running. The opportunity to push a text ad out to text-enabled car radios is huge, and from what I can tell, 100.3 Jack FM in Dallas, Texas is one of the first to start doing it.

Google has recently started to offer the option for advertisers to create a radio ad and run it on radio stations. But these are audio ads–the must be produced, and edited, which takes time and costs money. Why doesn’t Google, Yahoo! or even MSN talk to some major radio networks, do a deal for ads, and start running local text ads in major markets? Seems like a no brainer to me.

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