|Sun Sept 30 2012 19:25:02|
eBay Could Play a New Tune in Mobile Advertising
By: Brian Cohen
eBay's plans for mobile may surprise you, and it just might be music to your ears. With Apple in its crosshairs, eBay recently filed patent application 20120215643 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, "Method And Process Of Using A Musical Collective To Determine Preferences Of A Social Group And Target Advertisements Based Upon That Group." Also in eBay's sites are established players such as Spotify, Pandora, Last.fm, Muzak and Amazon.
Before we begin sifting through eBay's patent to find plain English (patents are difficult to read), we should take a look at how Muzak Holding (a.k.a The "Elevator Music" Company), founded in 1934, publicizes their music strategy:
"A soundtrack for your business... The power of music is undeniable. Music creates a connection and sets a mood. It can motivate, attract and engage. It can be a competitive advantage and a reason for customers to come in and come back. Let Muzak help you use the widest selection of fully licensed music programming to create an environment that will enhance your brand and build your business."
With Muzak setting the stage, I present to you the following extracts from eBay patent application:
"Traditionally, music performed in various establishments, such as restaurants and bars, is based upon a musical preference of an individual patron of the establishment. The musical preference may be in the form of music played by the individual patron on, for example, a Jukebox... However, the musical choices made by the individual patron could be annoying to other patrons in the establishment that do not share similar musical tastes. Typically, one way in which an establishment addresses this issue is merely to select what is assumed to be the most popular music, for a given venue or geographical region, and predominantly play that type of music..."
"(The Invention) samples and evaluates the musical collective of a current set of patrons within or in geographic proximity to an establishment (e.g., a local restaurant of bar) to determine an overall musical preference (e.g., what songs to play within the establishment)... The musical preferences can be continuously changing based upon various ones of the current patrons entering and leaving the establishment. The musical play-list can be changed commensurately with the current patrons. The establishment could set preferences to a predetermined "tolerance level" to match its current set of target patrons..."
"...For example, using a service such as the Genius feature, developed by Apple(R) Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., USA, the establishment can determine the best songs to play based on the current set of patrons. The Genius feature automatically generates a play-list of songs from an end-user's library which are similar to a selected song..."
"...Additionally, the establishment can have the play-list available to each patron while or after the patron is in the establishment. Each patron is given an option to vote on the play-list. A result of the voting could set a preference; for example, play the highest rated play-list the next time a particular patron visits the establishment..."
"...advertisements related to the generated play-list can be transmitted to the electronic devices of the patrons. ... ability to target advertisements to each patron based upon the musical preferences of the current patrons... (The) advertisements the end-user is willing to accept (is) based on factors such as types of clothing, price range of merchandise, content rating (e.g., general or mature audiences), or a number of other factors..."
"...A determination of what advertisements to deliver also may depend upon factors such as the amount that different advertisement campaign providers are willing to pay to have their advertisements delivered to an end-user having a particular profile, or to have their advertisements associated with particular content, or to have their advertisements matched to a particular end-user/preference combination. The amounts can be determined, for example, through a competitive bidding process..."
Basically music is being used as a way to categorize consumers so that advertisers can make assumptions about them. However, it is a bit peculiar that eBay would apply for this patent because it appears that eBay would have to use data compiled or collected by a third party rather than building upon this in-house.
Although one might assume that eBay filed this patent application on the sly for its subsidiary StubHub where you can purchase music concert tickets, that would not explain why StubHub continues to file for its own patents. Most recently StubHub filed for "System and method for managing group ticket procurement"... for "coordinating the sale of tickets to groups of people who want to sit together at the event, but pay for their tickets separately."
What's even more surprising about this patent filing is that while the dying format Compact Disc can be purchased on eBay and Half.com, MP3s are hard to come by on eBay's site and are not sold in a standardized way such as that on Amazon or iTunes.
eBay's policy on listing MP3s is as follows: "MP3 music you wrote, recorded, and own all the rights to."
Without a digital music library of its own, eBay would have to integrate this technology with a third party such as with Apple's iTunes. Or perhaps more likely use this patent as a monkey wrench (patent troll?) when one of the other players attempts to implement a system of their own.
One might speculate who eBay might partner with this. I suspect a partner may be Starbucks (or Concord Music Group) who acquired Hear Music - also see, Do You Hear What Starbucks Hears? July 1, 2004, which may have learned from its unsuccessful music strategy - (see Starbucks Refines Its Entertainment Strategy, Fast Company, Apr 24, 2008.
Does eBay have a digital music library strategy and do they actually plan on implementing this technology? Discuss!
About the Author
Brian Cohen has been an active member of the eBay community since May 1998. He currently trades under the member name Bidofthis.com. His first AuctionBytes article was published in May 2002. Brian can be contacted through his website at BidofThis.com where he always has a "little Bid of This and little Bid of That."