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Jelli Hails Progress of Its Programmatic Platform

SpotPlan aims to make radio ad buys more “like digital,” CEO says

Ahead of this week’s fall Radio Show, programmatic provider Jelli says its SpotPlan “self-service” ad platform, which launched in April, is now available in general release, allowing more marketers and broadcasters to access it. The company also highlighted data regarding its early use.

Jelli calls itself an ad platform for the $40 billion audio market. It says its large footprint is appealing to marketers, citing audience reach of about 245 million people per month, approximately 37% of radio listeners in the United States. Currently, 1,509 stations are using its technology, and it has a presence in the top 50 radio markets and 198 of the top 200. IHeartRadio has a notable partnership with Jelli.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based company says SpotPlan has brought new ad dollars to radio, converting digital spend to broadcast radio. Co-founder and CEO Mike Dougherty, right, says SpotPlan has brought money to radio because “we made it similar to digital — and easy like digital — to buy.”

Dougherty declined to give specific examples of companies that have altered their budgets but said that a “major retailer” and a media company were among recent success stories.

According to Dougherty, programmatic radio’s appeal to advertisers is simple. Despite naysayers, radio still has an appealing and broad reach, and despite the evolution of the digital dash, broadcast radio still dominates during rush hour. Therefore, if marketers wish to reach consumers during that time period, radio — not digital — offers the best opportunity, he says.

Although SpotPlan may not be able to offer the micro-targeting capabilities of Pandora, Spotify or Facebook, Dougherty says the one-to-many approach is valuable. He said that partner iHeartMedia makes its listener demographics available to SpotPlan users via the iHeartMedia Private Marketplace, enabling marketers to choose criteria when choosing what live inventory to purchase. Jelli also has a partnership with Katz Media, Expressway from Katz, which is an industry-wide marketplace owned by iHeart.

SpotPlan gives marketers the “ability to target programmatic audience cohorts for behavioral and intent-based categories,” and “the first agency buy was completed using enhanced targeting data ran and reached 43 million targeted customers across two campaigns,” according to a release.

Dougherty said SpotPlan simplifies and streamlines the ad buying process for advertisers and broadcasters through automation and algorithms, replacing some functions that previously had to be performed individually by employees. According to Jelli, “the average plan took Jelli’s algorithm 2.8 seconds to calculate versus days or weeks using the normal RFP model.”

The company said about 125 marketers and agencies have expressed interest in signing on to use the platform. Marketers must pay a licensing fee (typically tied to some percentage of the ad campaign) in order to utilize SpotPlan, while broadcasters can list inventory on the platform for free, Dougherty explains.

TargetonStar CEO Bill Ross, whose company began using SpotPlan as part of the early access program was quoted in a press release that his company was “able to go from purchase to on air in less than 48 hours.”

According to Jelli, customers involved in the early access “launch collectively represent approximately $1 billion of annual radio ad spend in the United States” and “hundreds of millions of dollars of inventory [is] provisioned in the programmatic marketplaces of Jelli’s broadcast partners, including more than 65 billion impressions and 16 million spots.”

In 2015, the company went through a major round of funding, raising $21 million in capital as it prepared for SpotPlan’s general release. Dougherty said that it has no current plans to seek additional financing anytime soon, but he said that the next round will be focused on bringing SpotPlan into international markets.

Radio Show attendees can learn more during a session called “Programmatic Unlocked” on Thursday. Jelli is not exhibiting at the show. Senior Vice President of Partner Marketplaces Tom Perry will attend, according to a spokesperson.

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