Napster to Tap Hot Web Ad Market

NEW YORK Music service Napster said it would push deeper into the Internet advertising market with a revamped ad-supported Web service for listening to music.

Napster.com now offers listeners up to five plays of more than 2 million songs. After that, they can either buy the songs for 99 cents or subscribe to Napster’s downloading service. The Los Angeles company plans to use the free service not only to promote its subscription offerings, which cost between $9.95 and $14.95, but also to attract advertising dollars.

“There’s a huge amount of demand for online advertising right now for those brands that can deliver a great audience,” said Alan Cohen, Napster’s chief marketing officer. “This is perfect timing in being able to provide this type of content in an ad-supported model.”

In addition to banner ads, Napster.com will play a 15-second pre-roll video ad before visitors begin listening to songs. Visitors will be served subsequent video ads every few minutes, Cohen said.

“People are willing to accept some advertising, particularly when it comes with content as compelling as this,” he said.

Napster has built a small ad sales team. Initial advertisers include the House of Blues, Activision and Samsung. Cohen said Napster would target ads by music genre, and work with advertisers to develop specialized executions such as creating their own playlists.