In the last month or so I've been dipping my toes into the ad-supported music download service We7. Their catalogue has expanded significantly since they launched, and there's now enough there that I like for me to have got 40-50 tracks that look interesting without having to spend too much time digging around on the site (the catalogue needs to expand further or the navigation and recommendations need to improve, however, for this to remain the case).
We7's model is based on their MediaGraft technology, which 'grafts' personalised ads onto the front of the track. Generally these are short enough — at 10-20 seconds — not to be too intrusive. Neither were the registration questions bothersome in terms of pumping me for details of my lifestyle. But the consequence of this is that you can end up with song intros like this clip:
Two points about this. One: the personalisation isn't working too well. I have never paid money for games hardware or software. I asked for Sim City for Christmas in 1992, but in the month or two immediately afterwards, I got so annoyed with myself for wasting whole weekends on it (sometimes not even eating properly) that I swore off it and have never gone back.
And, two: even if you leave that aside, listen to that audio whiplash between the ad and the track itself. When you're listening to French chansons from the '20s and '30s, just the tone of the ad is enough to make it come across like an aural invasion, and thus counterproductive in getting across the message.
Given that my selection of tracks is probably a better guide to my personality, lifestyle and buying habits than my age and gender, why not tailor the ads to the music rather than the listener demographics? No need for the clever software (patent pending) then, but the 'creatives' at the ad agencies might have to work a bit harder to think about the context in which their work will be heard.