adStream: Rdio’s new ad-supported service shows off radio spots

We reported Rdio‘s expansion to nine new national markets, bringing its global presence to 60 countries. The company posted an interesting 60-song playlist, one track from each of its countries. (Try the playlist here on RAIN.)

The playlist presented a good opportunity to settle in for some ad-watching. Rdio announced the start of ad-supported free listening on April 30. Rdio’s ad inventory is sold by Cumulus Media, which owns a stake in Rdio as part of a robust monetization and marketing partnership. In that context, it’s not surprising to find that the new ads are straight radio spots exported to Rdio’s stream. We have not encountered video, or display units that integrate with the web player.


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Recently spotted commercials in Rdio’s new ad-supported service feature plain ad units separated from the playlist.


We were interested in spot load. Through a 60-song playlist, commercial breaks occurred every three tracks. Some variation occurred when a track was skipped. The first break held two 30-second spots; each subsequent break played only one 30-second spot. We heard three sponsors rotating: Sam’s Club, The Gap/Banana Republic, and State Farm.

Back-of-the-envelope arithmetic shows ten and a half minutes of commercials in a 4.5-hour playlist, creating a spot load of two and a half minutes per hour.

A recent article at Thrive Advertising praised the ¬†value of advertising on Pandora, partly because of the low four-minutes-per-hour spot load.¬†Clearly, there is upside for Rdio as its ad-supported program gets rolling and Cumulus selling gains momentum. Pandora’s more mature program also offers a range of ad units and impactful full-page takeovers for advertisers who own, or are willing to produce, digital-ready creative.

It’s good to see Rdio off and running with ad-supported listening, and we look forward to watching it develop.

Brad Hill