Is radio dead? Not according to those who are investing in the industry

With companies like Jelli, DoubleClick and Pandora making their mark in the industry, we're taking a refreshed look at the medium.

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With so many audio devices at our fingertips, you might think of radio as a quaint reminder of our distant past.

You couldn’t be more wrong.

In the US last year, digital audio ad revenues topped $1.6 billion, according to the IAB, an increase of 39 percent over 2016.

And Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager announced in late May that it is rolling out support globally for buying audio ads programmatically across a handful of streaming services: Google Play Music, Spotify, SoundCloud and TuneIn, and soon, Pandora.

These investments in radio make Mike Dougherty, chief executive officer of programmatic radio platform Jelli, very happy.

“Audio is hot and everyone wants in,” Dougherty told me. “First, we saw Pandora acquire AdsWizz, now Google has entered audio advertising. The opportunity is too good to pass up. Audio ads alone generated $18 billion last year in the US. Radio has always had massive reach, now streaming — and soon, voice — will take the industry to the next level. This is great news for everyone in the space and Jelli has an incredible advantage as we got in early.”

Jelli says RadioSpot is the first programmatic supply-side platform (SSP) for radio advertising that has servers installed in radio stations, allowing marketers to buy ads digitally rather than reaching out over the phone to individual stations. The company says that its platform also allows advertisers to get real-time reporting and analytics, something that couldn’t be done before.

Jelli is now in 2,300 radio stations and has an exclusive partnership with behemoth IHeartRadio.

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Screen shot of the Jelli dashboard

“The industry was operating on an older model for a really long time, and it still is,” Dougherty said. “The industry really hasn’t changed the way it’s operated since the 1990s.”

Radio offers increased brand safety

Dougherty told me that with the increased concern among advertisers over brand safety in the past few years, radio is a safer bet:

Brand safety has always been a concern for marketers, but today’s political landscape coupled with the challenges inherent with social media, have taken it to astronomical levels,” Dougherty said. “Imagine you get up in the morning to browse the web and stumble across your brand’s ad right next to a fake news story, or one with comments from Russian trolls. Panic sets in because your brand is being promoted next to negative content.

Programmatic radio has always — and will always be — a safer and more controlled environment. One of the primary reasons for this is that radio is tightly regulated, and professionally produced. Also, radio advertising is premium, and based on established, accredited third-party audience data, so the process is much more transparent and predictable.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Robin Kurzer
Robin Kurzer started her career as a daily newspaper reporter in Milford, Connecticut. She then made her mark on the advertising and marketing world in Chicago at agencies such as Tribal DDB and Razorfish, creating award-winning work for many major brands. For the past seven years, she’s worked as a freelance writer and communications professional across a variety of business sectors.

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