The music-streaming service space continues to heat up for both advertisers and musicians. SoundCloud has now launched five new ad products that it hopes will help reel in the same kind of advertising spend that Spotify, YouTube and Pandora have generated from big brands.
Ads from Red Bull, Squarespace, Jaguar, Sonos and Comedy Central will start rolling out on SoundCloud's Web and mobile platforms over the next few weeks as part of its On Sound initiative. Promos will run against a handful of labels and distributors, comedy networks, independent artists, podcasts and multi-channel networks. In exchange for serving up ads, these content creators will receive cuts of the ad spend as a royalty.
The new ad products will eventually push SoundCloud to roll out subscription pricing to compete in the competitive music streaming industry. "We're introducing advertising into the service now. In the coming months, we're going to introduce a subscription offering that allows people to remove ads if they want to remove ads, and it will have other features," explained Jeff Toig, Chief Business Officer at SoundCloud.
Taking a Page From Twitter
SoundCloud has two native ad products, both of which mirror similar ad products from Twitter.
One of SoundCloud’s new ads is called promoted tracks, which pushes a piece of content to the top of desktop and mobile music streams, a format akin to Twitter’s Promoted Tweets. RedBull and Squarespace are testing the paid placement.
"Similar to a [how a Promoted] Tweet on Twitter is a real tweet, it's just promoted, these native ads are actually tracks that Squarespace will upload and then we promote," said Dan Gerber, head of sales at SoundCloud.
Squarespace’s campaign offers 10 percent off its services, and RedBull’s shows off its involvement with six artists.
Brands can also pull in their assets like visuals on top of music so that ads play like a slideshow after clicking on a promoted track.
The other native ad format promotes brand profiles, which are pages that marketers can set up as branded hubs of content. Red Bull’s profile, for example, has about 32,880 followers and aggregates playlists.
SoundCloud is also launching audio ads as pre-rolls before songs, similar to YouTube’s offerings.
The first 15 seconds of the ad are non-skippable. Then, consumers can choose to skip the ad, and advertisers can run content for an additional 15 seconds. Squarespace’s audio ads begin rolling out today.
In terms of display ads, SoundCloud has launched mobile interstitial ads to get around the fact that banners on smartphones and tablets are almost always clicked on accidentally.
The idea is that consumers must actively be doing something on the screen, like swiping or clicking, before they are served an ad.
The final two types of ads are sponsorships and contests that help brands link up with artists and bands. SoundCloud hasn’t worked with a brand on a sponsorship campaign yet, but it did reference a contest with Hans Zimmer where users submitted ideas for the chance to work with the composer’s team in his studio.