Marketron Begins Selling 'Programmatic' Radio Ads

Just over one year after announcing a partnership with Jelli, a programmatic platform for radio advertising, Marketron says it has executed its first programmatic -- i.e., automated -- spot buy for radio.

Using a “generic test” demand-side platform (DSPs), Starwood’s Aloft hotel group bought an ad on KSSTP-FM, and Wood River Valley Insurance bought an ad on KSKI-FM, using Marketron’s software.

After partnering with Jelli last year, Marketron integrated the company’s ad server into Mediascape, its supply-side platform (SSP) for radio broadcasters. Using Mediascape, broadcasters can make inventory available to buyers. Marketron notes in a release that it wants the Mediascape platform to be an “independent marketplace for the stations so that they remain in control of their own inventory and its value.”



This is one of the key differences between “programmatic” in the radio world and “programmatic” in the digital world. The broadcaster sets the price on Marketron’s marketplace, explained Jeff Haley, CEO of Marketron, which differs from a real-time bidding (RTB) environment wherein supply and demand dictate the price.

We define programmatic trading as the use of software with data inputs to facilitate a media transaction,” said Haley. “This becomes programmatic and different than traditional selling because it does not involve direct communication between buyer and seller.”

These trades are also not happening in “real-time,” Haley said. “While it's possible to inject advertising into the radio logs within minutes of a buy, we do not see this as a likely path for radio for some time to come, with the possible exception of political.”

He said that in the programmatic trades involving KSSTP-FM and KSKI-FM, the buys were completed and entered into the system “within minutes,” but would not actually air until the following week.

In addition, Haley asserts that the technology on both the supply and demand sides has been in place for months, and that the timing of these programmatic radio buys is “more related to the marketplace itself rather than the technology behind it.” He added: “We felt that now was the right time to show our technology as acceptance on the radio seller-side has gained critical mass.”

Marketron’s official break into programmatic radio comes less than two months after iHeartMedia, a large media and entertainment company, announced it would launch a programmatic ad platform for its broadcast radio stations. Katz Media Group, which represents over 275 radio broadcasters, said it will launch a programmatic ad exchange for broadcast radio inventory.

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