Broadcast radio stations and locally targeted ads reportedly planned for iTunes Radio

iTunes Radio (teaser, iPod touch, iPad, MacBook Air, Apple TV)

According to The Information, a technology blog run by the former Wall Street Journal star reporter Jessica Lessin, Apple is about to bring broadcast radio stations to its iTunes Radio service and permit advertisers to target listeners with greater granularity than before.

These latest strides, said to materialize later this year, are believed to be aimed squarely at the likes of Pandora as Apple moves to make its service more competitive versus established Internet radio offerings…

From The Information report, behind a paywall.

In a move that strikes at the heart of Pandora’s advertising business, iTunes Radio is expected to enable locally targeted advertising later this year, according to ad buyers who have spoken to Apple.

Apple may begin promoting iTunes with “house ads” on its iAd mobile advertising network, an unusual move for the company.

Author Amir Efrati adds that the iPhone maker will be adding broadcast radio stations as it seeks to increase the volume of iTunes Radio content available to listeners.

The company is reportedly working with such broadcasters as Cumulus Media and is said to start promoting non-music content through its own iAd network.

I’m all for it.

iTunes Radio (three-up, iPhone 5)

Apple needs to differentiate iTunes Radio, which now claims 40 million active listeners, from the rest of the pack. It could certainly add more value to it by turning the service into a digital replica of the good ol’ radio.

I want to be able to enjoy premium programming and news on iTunes Radio, rather than just listen to randomly rotating songs.

A report earlier this week alleged that iTunes Radio is about to add 42 local NPR stations like New York Public Radio and San Francisco’s KQED. By the way, NPR started streaming its news channels on iTunes Radio back in March, becoming the first non-music channel on the service.

Even more importantly, iTunes Radio is said to soon start streaming content from ESPN, including the World Cup stream.

The latter should become one of the service’s primary points of differentiation: you really can’t listen to the World Cup on Pandora or on other competing services.

Which brings me to my question of the day: are you among the 40 million people who tune in to iTunes Radio on a regular basis?

I get all of my music from Spotify. That being said, whenever I’m in a need of exposing myself to some new music, I use iTunes Radio because it’s seamlessly integrated and “just works.”