March 28, 2001, 12:00 AM

Bringing ambience to the web

BestBuy.com has a deal with NetRadio for exclusive audio programming.

 

Musical backgrounds have been on the web for some time. The feeling among some retailers is: Consumers get it when they shop in a store, so why not when they shop online? Now Best Buy Co. Inc.’s BestBuy.com is taking the idea of a musical site one step further. Not only is BestBuy.com providing music, it has contracted with online media provider NetRadio Corp. to provide 20 originally-programmed radio stations on the BestBuy.com site. The deal, which will launch later this spring, includes the development of two additional online radio stations that Best Buy will use for sales, marketing and promotions. Advertising on the radio channels will promote Best Buy special offers.

 

Best Buy went for the NetRadio option because it allowed BestBuy control over the content. “We wanted to have a music service on our site with the Best Buy brand that would give us the opportunity to program the material we wanted,” says Scott Young, vice president and general manager of entertainment at Best Buy. “Working with NetRadio, which has a proven, high quality operation, is a great way to add a feature that consumers are using on the web. And we can do it so Best Buy can have a new marketing and promotion vehicle. It is part of an overall effort to provide functionality that is useful, entertaining and will lead to sales.”

 

Customers at BestBuy.com will access the radio stations the same way they do at NetRadio’s web site-by clicking the play button in the entertainment section of the Best Buy site, then choosing the channel they want to hear.

 

Although adding multiple-choice streaming audio is cutting edge, Best Buy is wary of overdoing it until management has a better feel for how consumers respond. “We’re definitely going to keep the promotional messages within the limits of what is standard for radio,” Young says.

 

Best Buy is hoping customers will continue to listen to the NetRadio stations accessed through BestBuy.com even as they work on other programs on their computers. If a customer hears a song she likes and wants to buy the music, all she has to do is click a button on the radio player to place the order at BestBuy.com.

 

For Minneapolis-based NetRadio, the deal marks the online streaming audio provider’s efforts to develop cobranded B2B deals, says Steve Holdenberg, executive vice president of business development, sales and marketing at NetRadio. NetRadio has similar deals with Comedy Central and Playboy web sites. NetRadio’s web site featuring more than 100 channels of music, gets more than 2 million unique guests who visit several times per month, according to the company. With NetRadio’s On Screen Player, listeners can see the title and artist of each song as it plays. Users can click on a buy button to purchase what they’re hearing from NetRadio’s online music store. Like offline radio, NetRadio generates revenue mainly through advertising sales.

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