While starting from a small base, programmatic buying of radio is growing at a swift pace as more national brands shift from the clumsy process of faxing avails requests to high-tech automated buying. In the past year, gross media spend for Jelli’s SpotPlan program for agencies and advertisers shot up 266%; the number of advertisers using the platform nearly tripled.
Touted as the first demand-side platform (DSP) for broadcast radio advertising, SpotPlan is software that lets buyers manage the complete lifecycle of the radio buying process, while leveraging proprietary algorithms to match premium guaranteed inventory with the campaign goals of advertisers.
Among its agency clients are Starcom, Mediavest-Spark, Dentsu Aegis Network, Horizon Media, Havas Media, IPG Mediabrands and Varick Media Management.
With $62 million in annual revenue on a run-rate basis, programmatic has come a long way from a wonky concept that made industry eyes glaze over to one of the fastest growing trends in the radio business. While that’s only a small fraction of national ad dollars, it continues to grow, so much so that San Mateo, CA-based Jelli is opening new offices in New York and Boise to keep up with rising client demand. In New York, a new sales office is headed by Eric Ronning, one of the original architects of streaming audio ad sales at Ronning Lipset Radio and TargetSpot. Ronning oversees sales of Jelli software to agencies and large national advertisers. And in Boise, one of the Mountain region’s growing high tech hubs, a new consumer service center has opened to ensure advertisers receive “white glove treatment” for their ad campaigns.
Meanwhile, more radio companies are making more inventory available for sale on supply side ad exchanges such as Expressway from Katz, the programmatic ad buying exchange developed by Katz Radio Group in partnership with Jelli. Expressway now has eight of radio’s largest groups on board. The number of radio stations offering inventory programmatically on Jelli-powered platforms has more than doubled in the past year to 2,200 radio stations—half of which are ranked in the top 10 in their market. Jelli says its partner platforms now reach 245+ million listeners and impact 11 million people concurrently at any given moment.
SpotPlan has moved off the Early Access program on-ramp and onto the ad buying speedway. Some 355 advertisers are now buying radio through Expressway and other marketplaces powered by Jelli’s technology. Programmatic’s total transactional volume in the first three months of 2017 has already exceeded all of 2016.
“We had a big year in dollars and campaigns bought through the platform across all the marketplaces we power,” Jelli cofounder and CEO Mike Dougherty tells Inside Radio. “We’re very pleased to see the market starting to take off.”
The numbers are expected to continue to rise at a steady clip as dollars move into the platform from both existing and new radio advertisers. Longtime radio buyers at major agencies say they’re drawn to programmatic because it makes buying media faster and easier while enabling more refined audience targeting beyond traditional demographics. Horizon Media anticipates placing all of its radio buys programmatically by 2019. “There are existing radio advertisers who are loving the fact that they can execute their campaigns on a modern platform that makes the campaigns execute like digital,” Dougherty says. “In some cases they’re increasing their buys or staying pat in a world where some clients are retrenching.”
At the same time, the technology has brought a raft of new clients to radio including Daily Burn, Accurian Clinical Trials and agencies Mckay Advertising and Activation and RVA Media Group. Digital agencies that have shunned radio are buying the medium for the first time without having to hire radio buying experts to place their buys.
“The story in the last six months has been the expert radio buyers from the largest agencies combining the art of their expertise in buying radio with the science of this new technology,” Dougherty says. Agencies such as Starcom, Mediavest-Spark, Horizon and Havas have been shifting their radio budgets to programmatic. “It makes radio extremely modern and competitive with digital and allows it to compete not only with streaming but more importantly compete with Google and Facebook,” Dougherty adds. “That’s really important for the entire industry.”