New Ads on Last.fm Respond to Music

A redesign of Last.fm, the CBS-owned free online music platform, is giving advertisers the ability to create “smart ads” that can, among other things, move to the beat of whatever music a user is listening to.

The new interface is already being used by Converse and Motorola for innovative online marketing efforts that Last.fm suggests are more “immersive” and targeted than anything available on the site before, said Martin Stiksel, Last.fm co-founder.

“The new design is way more modular,” said Stiksel. “The old site grew organically since about 2003. We’d been bolting on additional features…and we ended up with lot of things. Now we had an opportunity to re-assess and restructure.”

Stiksel also said both the Internet and the online ad market changed since Last.fm was launched six years ago. He said the new design is based on input from users and advertisers. “We tried to bring all these things together and it was a general, large overhaul that’s boosted us into the future.”

Aside from enabling ad messages that can react to music, the new site design allows ads that are based on and can “reflect” the music or activity on the page. For instance, ads can also now include interactive elements, such as maps with concert listings for the artist being played. They can also peddle tickets to shows and let people make hotel reservations near concert sites.

“A lot of these formats were not possible before,” said Stiksel. “Some of the new data now available for us to utilize for advertising was not available before. The world had changed around us and we’ve caught up and hopefully we made a step forward.”

Last.fm gathers a significant amount of demographic information about its users — primarily about their musical tastes — and the new design improves marketer ability for targeting ads.

Stiksel said advertisers can leverage Last.fm’s active community of third-party developers with whom the site has a long history of making data available. He said a new “connectivity map” campaign by Converse is based on a third-party-designed application. That campaign uses Last.fm data to let people find out who among their friends most closely shares their musical tastes.

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