Signs 26-Week Deal With Calif. Radio Station KCRW

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NEW YORK ( -- Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus division has become the latest mainstream brand to seize on podcasting as a marketing tool.
Lexus has bought into a podcasting campaign through public radio station KCRW in Southern California.
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The luxury auto company has signed a 26-week deal to sponsor podcasts at Santa Monica, Calif., public radio station KCRW. The pact was signed on behalf of the Southern California Lexus Dealers and goes into effect tin October.

Other auto brands
Lexus joins marketers such as General Motors Corp., Audi and Warner Bros. that are investigating this emerging technology that combines attributes of the Internet and radio to create a new sort of hybrid.

Podcasting is a method of distributing digital audio files across the Internet for users to download onto their iPods and MP3 players to listen to at their leisure. Some 22 million Americans now have a device that plays such files.

�Podcasting is a way to reach a fresh audience, a niche audience,� said Bill Flitter, chief marketing officer and founder of RSS ad network Pheedo. Audi, for example, is sponsoring a podcast for Autoblog. But Lexus also joins brands like condom maker Durex that want to appeal to younger, hipper consumers who are never far from their iPods and the desire to experience media of their choice when and how they want it.

And Lexus is doing just that. KCRW, renowned for debuting and reporting on cutting-edge music, attracts an audience that reflects Lexus� target: educated, affluent and intelligent.

The station�s listeners are comprised of more men than women and are slightly younger -- from 25 to their early 50s -- than Lexus� typical buyer, who is a man in his 40s and 50s making over $100,000 a year.

KCRW�s listeners are definitely early adopters of technology. �We want to align ourselves with the thought leaders,� said Ann Bybee, corporate manager for advertising and brand strategy for Lexus.

KCRW, a National Public Radio station in Southern California, began podcasting 22 of its programs by RSS feeds in March. The first week, the station�s site logged 25,000 downloads of its talk, news and cultural programs. Soon, after the shows were listed in podcasting directories, and the podcasts were mentioned by Apple Computer head Steve Jobs as �professional� during a conference, downloads spiked to 75,000 a week. The station broadcasts to about half a million people each week, said Jacki Weber, development director at KCRW.

CPM-like model
The Lexus agreement is worth six figures, according to an executive close to the deal who declined to provide further details. Lexus and station executives said although the deal is structured on a CPM (cost-per-thousand viewers) model like typical Internet media buys in which the advertiser pays for the actual number of downloads, Lexus gets more for its money. It includes promoting the sponsorship in a print ad campaign; Lexus logos and links on and on the podcast player; mentions on the air during daily regular programming; and mentions at the beginning of all 22 podcasts. The pact is exclusive.

Publicis Groupe's Team One, El Segundo, Calif., is the ad agency for Lexus.

Mr. Flitter said that for popular radio shows that get, say, 30,000 downloads a month, the sponsor would pay $10,000 or so. �It depends how they value that podcast,� said Mr. Flitter, who has 8,000 publishers in the Pheedo network. The time-shifting nature of podcasts can possibly add to their value, he added. �I would listen to the broadcast months from now -- I can listen to it in my own time, that�s the beauty of it.�

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