Google’s Terrestrial Exit – and Entrée into the Digital Stream

Yesterday, amidst developing news of Sirius XM’s struggle to fend off bankruptcy, Google announced plans to shut down its broadcast-radio ad-sales business.

The search powerhouse had entered that space three years ago, with the $100+ million acquisition of dMarc Broadcasting, whose technology put radio stations together with advertisers, while automating much of the sales process.

alanlevyformal1Many an industry observer felt Google’s move was overdue.

“I’m surprised it took them this long,” Ross Sandler, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, told “They sunk a lot of money into this, and there was potential that never happened.”

Google itself, painfully aware, no doubt, of the contracting terrestrial market, was equally candid.

“While we’ve devoted substantial resources to developing these products and learned a lot along the way, we haven’t had the impact we hoped for,” said the company’s vice president of product development, Susan Wojcicki.

And though Google is exiting radio, it’s not saying goodbye to audio.

Part II of the company’s announcement yesterday concerned a space I am intimately familiar with – and bullish on.

“We will use our technology to develop Internet-based solutions that will deliver relevant ads for online streaming audio,” said Ms. Wojcicki. “We are dedicating a team of people at Google to explore how we can best add value for advertisers, broadcasters and listeners in this emerging advertising space.”

That’s music to my ears; a success story like Google, the dominant player on the Web, acknowledging the potential of online radio to become profitable via an ad-supported model.

That’s also why I’m not shy about saying that BlogTalkRadio is interested in being part of Google’s exploratory efforts.

After all, we have emerged as the dominant player in the talk side of the streaming-audio equation.

Last month, according to, we surpassed one million unique users.

But that critical mass is on-site users alone. Off-site, via services like iTunes and thousands of individual blogs and websites, the network has at least twice as many listeners.

BlogTalkRadio also amassed 270,000 unique keywords in January, creating a fast-growing amount of metadata that helps our shows become keyword searches in Google and other search engines.

Meanwhile, since launching in the fall of 2006, we have broadcast and archived more than 200,000 episodes, growing to more than 20,000 live broadcasts per month.

Welcome to this emerging market.

I hope you won’t be a stranger.

Alan Levy
Founder and CEO

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