Commentary

Radio Static Clearing: Programmatic's New Puzzle Piece

Radio broadcasting giant iHeartMedia is building out an ad tech stack -- and fast.

Less than two months after announcing its plans to launch a programmatic ad platform for its broadcast radio stations, the broadcaster has invested in Unified for analytics and targeting data.

“The integration of Unified’s social data will give iHeartMedia advertisers enhanced capabilities for identifying audience segments, measuring the impact of advertising, and understanding attribution for digital ads,” wrote Erik Sass in MediaPost’s Media Daily News

So iHeartMedia now has enhanced audience-targeting data and measurement as well as a platform for programmatic radio selling. In addition, its national sales firm -- Katz Media Group -- is launching a programmatic ad exchange for broadcast radio inventory.

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The chain is forming, and iHeartMedia is touching all the links. A company representative told Real-Time Daily that iHeartMedia doesn't have much more to say about its plans regarding its growing tech capacity at the moment, but indicated that some updates could be on the horizon.

iHeartMedia is not, however, the only company responsible for the materialization of programmatic radio. Just over two weeks ago, Marketron says it executed its first automated spot buy for radio using Jelli, the same ad tech platform used by iHeartMedia and Katz.

Marketron explained then that it “define[s] programmatic trading as the use of software with data inputs to facilitate a media transaction,” per Jeff Haley, CEO. “This becomes programmatic and different than traditional selling because it does not involve direct communication between buyer and seller.”

These transactions are not happening in real-time auction environments like they do with real-time bidding (RTB) in the digital world. The better comparison to make between the digital world's application of ad tech and radio's is "programmatic direct" ad platforms, which use ad technology and automation for negotiating, targeting, delivery, etc., but not in a real-time auction. 

Perhaps the most significant implication is that as more channels get the automation treatment (radio, TV, out-of-home), the stronger cross-channel marketing’s gravitational pull gets. The vision includes reaching the same, verified audience across all channels -- automatically.

The industry may be a ways off from turning that vision into a reality, but more pieces of the puzzle keep falling into place.

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