Horizon Media wants to be at the forefront as broadcast radio buying becomes more automated and data-driven.
On Tuesday, Horizon said it would use programmatic radio platform Jelli for all of its radio upfront planning and buying – typically where advertisers spend at least half of their annual budgets.
The media agency, one of the top broadcast radio buyers in the industry, began exploring tools to make ad buying more efficient in September 2015, when it tested Jelli on behalf of its client, GEICO. It then started using the platform for all scatter buys.
“[Radio buying] is very manual in nature,” said Lauren Russo, SVP and managing director of audio at Horizon Media. “The platform enables us to transact and buy in a more streamlined manner, from RFP to reconciliation.”
While programmatic radio isn’t transacted through an auction, Jelli surfaces programmatic guaranteed inventory as it becomes available. It also shows buyers where their spots are running in real time, which wasn’t previously available in radio, said Jelli CRO Rich Knopke.
“In radio, you don’t get your invoices back for 60 to 90 days,” he said. “If [a spot] didn’t run, you didn’t know about it until after the campaign. We’re laying those makegoods in automatically, and that’s saving tons of money on lost spots.”
By extending its relationship with Jelli to the upfronts, Horizon hopes to streamline more radio buys for larger clients. The move also signals a broader commitment by the agency to embrace automation and targeting.
“We’re known as first-to-market pioneers in radio,” Russo said. “We’re looking to the future and saying we want to connect with the consumer in the right audio environments.”
Horizon is also excited about the possibilities for advanced audience targeting. While most broadcasters still sell radio on age and gender demos, some, like iHeartMedia, are making audience segments that Jelli can show buyers.
Using Jelli, Horizon can target audiences on iHeartMedia’s 850 broadcast stations that, for example, went to a quick-serve restaurant in the past 30 days. But until more radio sellers make their inventory available on advanced audio segments, only a piece of the buy can be data-driven.
“Right now it’s just a piece of the investment, not the total market,” Russo said.
Despite limitations in the radio industry, Jelli’s Knopke said agencies are taking note.
“Agencies want to transform to more automated platforms, and that transformation isn’t just relegated to digital,” he said. “It’s just that agencies in general are big ships, and it’s hard to change the way people have been buying for so long.”