NAB Gives Google Cool Reception

NEW YORK Google may want to get into the radio advertising business, but it’s getting a cool reception at this week’s National Association of Broadcasters radio show in Charlotte, N.C.

The service was pronounced “DOA” by one top radio exec, while agencies scratched their heads over the details of the ad placement service presented to New York buyers last week.

So far Google has signed only 1,750 stations to its ad platform (about 655 are owned by Clear Channel). Other groups, such as Emmis Communications, have experimented with the platform, but have stopped short of making a formal commitment.

At one NAB panel, Ed Christian, president and CEO of Saga Communications, is reported to have responded to a question about Google with the simple quip: “Google, Schmoogle.”

The service has a long way to go before the radio industry embraces its platform, buyers said. At first positioned as a service that could bring new advertisers to radio, Google is now trying to lure the big ad buying shops to its service.

“Now they want to be the middle man; they want to attract traditional advertisers and be the equivalent of a spot or network rep,” said Rich Russo, director of broadcast services for JL Media.

Google’s platform falls short on the kind of accountability buyers need for their big advertiser clients. “I need to know what stations I bought before the schedule runs, not after,” said Kim Vasey, senior partner and director of radio at Mediaedge:cia.

Rates are also an issue at a time when lukewarm demand for radio has softened station-pricing power. According to one buyer who experimented with a schedule, the rates were sky-high, more expensive than a network radio buy.

Google, which is said to have pulled its representatives from panels at the show, did not return calls for comment.