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adStream: Skippable audio ads

adStream is a journal of ad-stalking and interesting commercial sightings in streaming audio services.


We had heard about SoundCloud’s skippable audio ads, and were on the prowl to see one in action. We struck gold in the new Gimlet Media site.

adstream 12232014 - gimlet media companion to audio

Gimlet Media is an early-stage podcasting starting with a small catalog of two programs, and big ambitions. We listened to Reply All — “A show about the Internet.” The programs are between 15 and 20 minutes long, featuring a personality who has done something interesting and is interviewed, This American Life style.

When streaming the podcasts on the Gimlet site (they are hosted on SoundCloud, and accessible there too), we found the unique ad technology used by SoundCloud to present a 30-second pre-roll audio ad, accompanied by a static mini-banner bolted onto the left side of the player. The “skip” option kicks in after 15 seconds, and there is a countdown timer. (See the screenshot above.)

The implementation is similar to YouTube’s skippable ads (most of which had a five-second enforcement), and SoundCloud’s technology reinforces the company’s stated ambition to be “the YouTube of audio.”

The spot we heard was a standard 30-second radio commercial for Lenovo’s line of Yoga laptops. Gimlet Media (or Soundcloud) is employing a frequency cap, so you don’t hear the pre-roll again if you skip down the page and start up other episodes. We tried our hardest, and finally had to open a non-cookie browser to hear the spot again and test the skip feature. Works perfectly.

 

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Brad Hill

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