Will Users Really Watch Last.fm’s New Ad-supported Visual Radio?

Last.fm has re-launched its streaming music player to incorporate rich media content alongside its existing online radio offering. Users will now be provided with a stream of artist images, music videos, and other visual content as they stream audio from the site, and Last.fm will unearth a range of new ad inventory as a result.

The firm says the new player will provide “unique visual branding opportunities,” and will create a more immersive experience than the audio ad spots currently being used by rival streaming services such as Spotify and We7. U.K. mobile network operator Vodafone is already making use of the new offering, running 15 second video ads in the player before some tracks.

In a release, Martin Stiksel, Last.fm co-founder, said, “Passionate music fans come to Last.fm for more than just the songs, and Visual Radio provides them with the enriching, full-featured music experience they demand. And the bold new music player allows brands and sponsors the opportunity to directly reach these users in a visually exciting way.”

I disagree. I would have thought the majority of users visit Last.fm for just the songs, rather than a slideshow and some branding. What’s more, many users run streaming music services in the background of other applications, rather than granting them their undivided attention. Ultimately, therefore, I’m dubious as to quite how “engaged” the consumer is likely to be with the new player.

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