Clear Channel Aims to Move Smaller Advertisers Online

Clear Channel Radio has struck a deal with online production company StudioNow that will help its smaller advertisers place video ads on Clear Channel Web sites.

Today, when listeners activate the audio player on Clear Channel Radio Web sites, they are greeted by a 15- or 30-second pre-roll ad. Those ads more than likely come from one of Clear Channel’s Fortune 500 advertisers, who can either afford to create exclusive Web content or simply reformat an existing TV spot for the Internet. Smaller advertisers are rarely able to take advantage of the Web videos simply for matters of cost and scale.

The new deal will ensure nearly all those advertisers have professional quality video ads that can run on the audio player. StudioNow maintains an eBay-style Web marketplace in which video producers can be matched with assignments, thereby cutting down on overhead costs and other price barriers to creating video ads. Clear Channel will now connect all of its smaller advertisers with StudioNow, who will provide them with the means to create the ads.

“Clear Channel gets close to 10 to 20 million unique users a month opening up audio players on its various Web sites,” and viewing pre-roll video ads, said David Mason, CEO of StudioNow. “But thousands of small, local merchants who are buying traditional air time don’t have the money to create the content; that’s where they hit a wall. We help knock down that wall.”

Clear Channel maintains more than 800 radio station Web sites, which together reach a monthly online audience of 11 million unique visitors, according to comScore / Media Metrix. StudioNow was founded a little over a year ago by the same partners who started the book retailing site that eventually became Buy.com.

Indeed, StudioNow’s Web marketplace has already built a base of several thousand video professionals looking to work on an “on-demand basis,” as Mason put it. Much like OpenAd.net or Spot Runner, which recently acquired video-producing network GlobeShooter, StudioNow is taking advantage of a Web-based interface to cut down overhead and reduce price barriers to advertising.

“This partnership gives our stations the tools to keep up with creative demand by building cost-effective professional-quality online video ads for our local advertisers,” said Evan Harrison, EVP of Clear Channel and head of its online music and radio unit, in a statement.

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