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eBay goes for broke with Radio ads

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After its online efforts to broker off-line television ads were spurned by the major cable networks, eBay is trying the same trick with radio ads.

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company was allowing more than 2,300 radio stations to sell ad time via the eBay Media Marketplace—the same marketplace where the company has struggled to grab a piece of the TV ad dollars. Arch-rival Google offers a similar online market, brokering radio ads on behalf of Clear Channel Communications, America’s largest radio station owner.

The eBay Media Marketplace launched in March, and by April, the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB) announced that its members would not use the service. "We don't believe that eBay is going to get this right," Sean Cunningham, the bureau's president and chief executive told The New York Times. eBay didn't secure its first TV network until late last month, when Oxygen - a CAB member - announced that it would use the marketplace in spite of the edict.

But eBay already has a bit more traction on the radio side of things. In partnering with Bid4Spots, a site that has brokered radio ads via the Web since 2005, the company has immediate access to over 2,300 radio stations in more than 300 major markets - including Clear Channel stations. Advertisers can auction their ads these stations using either the eBay Media Marketplace or Bid4Spots.com.

In essence, eBay is supplying the big advertisers - including HomeDepot and HP - while Bidspot supplies the stations. "Since the middle of last year, I've been looking for an partner that had already attracted advertisers but was looking for someone who had access to lots and lots of radio stations," says David Newark, the president and CEO of Bid4Spots. "eBay was the perfect fit."

After purchasing dMarc Broadcasting, a Bid4Spots competitor, Google is brokering radio ads through its AdWords service, and it plans to expand into other off-line advertising markets, including TV ads. ®

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