With Last.fm Acquisition, CBS Gets Younger Online

Music Site Offers 'Clean, Well-Lit' Place for Ads

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Continuing its streak of small- to medium-size acquisitions, CBS plans to acquire Last.fm, a growing social music-sharing site, for $280 million.
Based in the U.K., Last.fm is best-known for its social-recommendation engine, in which new artists are suggested to users based on their playlists and what tastes they may have in common with other users.
Based in the U.K., Last.fm is best-known for its social-recommendation engine, in which new artists are suggested to users based on their playlists and what tastes they may have in common with other users.

The acquisition is surely a play for scale, one of two areas in which CBS has said it wants to concentrate its online investment (the other being made-for-web content). Last.fm has more than 15 million unique visitors internationally.

Recent acquisitions
CBS has also recently purchased Wallstrip.com, a daily web show about the stock market, invested in Joost and Spot Runner and expanded its online content syndication play, coined the CBS Audience Network, to 25 online partners.

Based in the U.K., Last.fm is best-known for its social-recommendation engine, in which new artists are suggested to users based on their playlists and what tastes they may have in common with other users. The service imports a user's iTunes playlist or streaming radio preferences using a plug-in and dissects the information and recommends new songs using a process it calls "scrobbling," derived from the name of its music engine, Audioscrobbler.

A fit with other assets
CBS said it was a bit early to talk about how the new acquisition might be deployed or promoted, but that it will fit nicely with its assets, which include radio and TV.

Patrick Keane, chief marketing officer of CBS Interactive, whose job is to work on monetizing the property, said part of Last.fm's appeal was that it's a brand-safe social environment for advertisers. Right now it tends to run primarily standard display advertising, and he envisions adding richer programs for marketers but insisted it would be mindful of the user environment.

"It reaches younger audiences and helps even out our demographic profile across internet properties and it's a clean, well-lit place to surround users and messages," he said.

Not an international play
It's also the second online audience announcement that included a strong international presence. The CBS Audience Network was also international. While outside of its outdoor business CBS doesn't necessarily have a strong international presence, Mr. Keane said not to read too much into the recent online announcements.

"We think we're in a great position to build this audience domestically," Mr. Keane said.
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