8tracks CEO David Porter talks about audio advertising

david porter 02 250wLast week we covered AudioHQ’s launch as a new audio ad network, partnering with 8tracks as a music-service partner. CEO Matt Cutair told us that his company seeks to facilitate a “middle market” between high-end premium sales and programmatic buying.

To follow up on the content side, we spoke to David Porter, founder and CEO of 8tracks. Porter’s crowdsourced music platform, in which users create and tag “mixes,” has operated in the black for over two years, with a revenue mix of ads and ad-free subscriptions. We wanted to know the importance of AudioHQ to 8tracks, and learned that the partnership will move 8tracks into audio advertising for the first time.

“Historically we have been a consumer-facing business, and advertising has been second fiddle,” David Porter told RAIN in a phone call. “Since October we’ve had a direct sales person on board. But to move fully into the advertising business, it’s not just the addition of team member — it’s also about thinking of what ad products we should be offering. We’re excited about our native ad products, which are about a brand being affiliated with a playlist, or curating it. And last month we started video pre-roll ads.”

“But we also know there are tried-and-true ad formats that are new to us.¬†Ultimately we have to have audio ads of some sort, because so much of the consumption experience takes place in listening environments where there isn’t a display component. Audio is the way to go.”

David Porter is aware that introducing a new form of advertising into the 8tracks experience requires some caution. “We’re going to start slowly,” he said. “We’re interested in formats that would be great for our young audience. At the same time, we remain mindful that buyers are used to standard formats — 15-second and 30-seconds spots. We will also be mindful of how our listeners react [to the introduction of audio ads], but ultimately we have to follow the listening experience, which is shifting to mobile and walking around with a phone. Audio ads have to be in the mix.”

“We’re willing to experiment to see which formats are going to strike the right balance, generating enough revenue, but also not going to push people away. You have to walk that fine line.”

Brad Hill