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Google will not buy Clear Channel

There’s speculation in the radio industry that Google is prepping a bid to buy – or buy into – Clear Channel.

I think this is way off base.

And I’ll do some speculating of my own.

Google is in the business of leveraging content created by media companies and/or consumers. Google is a facilitator, a creator of effeciencies. Google is (among other things) in the business of “greasing the wheel” of messaging that links marketers with consumers – regardless of medium.

Google is not in the business of killing trees (by buying newspapers) or owning sticks (by buying radio stations) or owning content producers (by buying TV networks or their associated movie studios).

Look for Google Audio to expand the market for audio advertising and expand the market for radio-generated content to new media. This will broaden audiences for the content that deserves it, it will broaden the audience for radio advertising, and it will, theoretically, increase the advertising pie available to broadcasters – even with a new slice of that pie reserved for Google.

Advertising deals? You bet. Striking new efficiences and a bigger market? Sure. But an ownership stake in Clear Channel? I wouldn’t bet on it. Why hire your own sales staff if you’re soon to own Clear Channel’s?

Why is there so much mystery about Google Audio? At least some of the technology has been laid out with amazing clarity (also see here):

They demonstrated the product and gave an overview of how they are able to dynamically generate and change commercial content according to demographic and what is currently going on in the geographic area of radio stations. Their example – if its really hot in one area, McDonalds may not want to roll their regular burger ad, but instead an ad for their cool drinks and frozen treats would be played. The overall feel was to make radio advertising more accessible and targeted for everyone. They cited that most radio advertising campaigns require a $20,000 spend, and when people are not willing to spend that it’s hard for them to break into radio advertising….would enable people with a $200 budget to break into radio advertising… The inclusion of reporting and content creation tools was discussed as well as a way to help advertisers track and account for their radio advertising as well as create their own audio content for the system.

Google has been very clear that their mission is to “organize the world’s information.” That mission pretty clearly leads to the notion that they will leverage technology to better connect advertisers and consumers.

And it pretty clearly does not lead to the idea that they should buy Clear Channel.

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