One day after Cumulus-owned Westwood One announced it was bringing Cumulus radio station commercial inventory into the programmatic era via Katz Expressway, Katz unleashed another press announcement outlining the scope of its programmatic radio market.
U.S. radio groups now participating in the Expressway automated buying platform include Alpha Media, Beasley Media Group, CBS Radio, Cumulus | Westwood One, Emmis Communications, Entercom Communications, Radio One, and Townsquare.
The system is powered by ad-tech company Jelli, which tells RAIN News that today’s announcement represents 2,200 radio stations with inventory on the Expressway platform, including six #1 stations in top-10 markets, and eight of the top 10 stations in all top-10 markets. Jelli also notes that it has built relationship with major players on the buy side, including “the top 5 of 6 advertising holding companies accounting for over $1B in annual radio advertising investments.” Jelli offers performance tracking of ad delivery in the Expressway system.
Lauren Russo, SVP of Audio and Promotions at Horizon Media, also speaks up for the value to buyers. “This is a major milestone for the radio industry. Expressway from Katz allows us to programmatically access inventory from leading broadcasters, delivering marketers’ messages with data targeting, extensive automation, and real-time monitoring and reporting capabilities in an efficient and cost-effective way.”
Mike Dougherty calls today’s announcement of Expressway’s reach an inflection point, and a step to pull the entire industry together. When Expressway was first announced (April, 2015), Dougherty told RAIN News, that radio “had a seat at the table.” We asked him about that today in a phone call. “Now the party has shown up,” Dougherty said.
The benefits to radio, as evangelized by Katz, include greater efficiency, and offering a faster and more agile buying experience. “Katz is committed to providing the most effective ways for advertisers to reach and influence their target audiences,” said Mark Gray, CEO of Katz Media Group. “In addition to our existing sales efforts, Expressway from Katz now provides each of our radio partners the ability to offer their buyers the additional speed, ease and agility of a modern, programmatic experience for broadcast radio.”
“Our clients are looking to us for solutions to help them get the most out of their overall marketing strategies,” said Suzanne Grimes, EVP, Corporate Marketing, Cumulus Media and President, Westwood One. Grimes was one of many radio group executives quoted in today’s announcement from Katz. “We are excited to welcome programmatic buying into our wheelhouse of capabilities.”
15,330 radio stations in the US with only 2,200 affiliated with an automated system. While certainly progress, having less than 15% of all radio stations using an automated system does not constitute a “party”. I would say it’s closer to having a highchair at the table. Missing 40% of the #1 stations in the top 10 markets is a pretty big hole to fill for the local buyers. Of course stations want to put inventory into a system that allows them to price higher than rate card and offers no real negotiation. I mean, if your going out of business and struggling under loads of debt, why would you not make a last ditch effort to sell your inventory above rate card? Especially when it’s something you can spin off to your stock holders. Let’s face it, until Jelli breaks away from these bankrupt vendors and stops putting their needs over the buyers, this platform is going nowhere. How could Jelli do this one might ask? By telling the greedy pigs that the only way they can participate in the system is to verify their pricing is at or below rack rates. Also by transforming the system into a bidding platform. Instead of starting at the absolute highest rate, how about we start at a ground floor and let the buyers bid it up to find the true value? The entire roll out by iHeart is a classic example of what’s wrong In our industry. Dressing up a pig in lipstick. Oversell and underdeliver. Radio needs to be humble and understand it’s limitations. The only thing buyers like about this system is that vendors actually have to start delivering
the spots they sell. For the first time, vendors have to be accountable. No buyer is using this system because it makes life easier (it’s in fact the opposite) buyers are using this because vendors steal and we all know it. This system will be obsolete as soon as someone comes up with a tool for real time verification. Buyers are already too overworked to do the jobs of sales people too.
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