@ CBS Radio Presentation: New Play.It Media Player Offers Personalization, Contextual Ads

After a brief introduction from Les Moonves, CBS Corp.’s (NYSE: CBS) president and CEO, CBS Radio executives took the stage attempting to convince advertisers that radio is not dead. Dan Mason, CBS Radio’s president and CEO, claimed that “$1 billion in ad dollars were spent telling you that the iPod and satellite radio will lead to the death of radio. That’s a myth. Like when you were told the eight-track tapes, cassettes and the CD would sign radio’s death warrant. To say that an iPod or satellite radio, with little or no human connection will ever replace radio is absurd.” After that, Mason’s second goal was to call attention to CBS Radio’s intention to make use of digital distribution, even as CBS Radio and its peers struggle to cope with the additional competition from those platforms.

Wireless since 1928: David Goodman, president of the digital media group, tried to make the case that CBS radio was in the wireless business 80 years and therefore, has seen all kinds of challenges meant to bury radio. But he insisted that internet radio is more friend than foe and hopes CBS can tout the ad advantages over other platforms. “Internet radio is more popular than mobile audio streaming or satellite. Initially, we were nervous about cannibalization. What we found was that it amplifies our listenership. People go from their car to their office and put on their media player. They’re listening more and for longer periods.”

Never having to listen to the Eagles: Goodman then unveiled the big news of the day: a new media player desktop app that brings together song personalization and recommendation for users, with a broad, contexual canvas for marketers to reach listeners. The new media player, called Play.It, groups all stations in the CBS Radio network together, providing a wide choice of formats for users and advertisers. The player features large space for contextual ads that displays marketers’ slides, along with banner ads that are synched with the content coming out of the player. For example, if a talk station is discussing news about automobiles, a car ad might pop up. On the entertainment side, the player boasts e-commerce links that might sell concert tickets tied to an artist who’s being played. Listeners will be able to tune in new internet-only stations, such as an archives site from New York City classic rock station WNEW. As for the personalization function, users can type in an artists’ name and build a playlist based on automated recommendations. For example, Goodman demonstrated a playlist formed around Bruce Springsteen. Play.It then offers recommendations based on what a user has already chosen. Users can refine it by excluding certain artists. In Goodman’s case, he showed how he has banned all Eagles’ songs from his Play.It list.

AOL (NYSE: TWX) Radio: The deal that CBS and AOL Radio announced last month is key to CBS Radio achieving its goal of being the “number one internet radio station.” Goodman claimed that will be the case when the unified AOL/CBS network launches next month. That led into further promises of the much talked about integration with Last.fm, which CBS bought last May for $280 million. Lastly, Goodman previewed a new internet radio ad program Called the i5 – with a logo designed like an official Interstate Highway sign – that promises seamless cross-network, cross-platform deals.