Commercial radio industry advances programmatic buying plan

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 5 December 2016

As part of its grand plan to automate the radio ad buying process, Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) has today revealed Audionet as the industry partner which will help the national industry body get the show on the road.

Late last year CRA established The CRA Automation and Programmatic Committee to work towards an industry-wide programmatic solution with Nova Entrainment CEO, Cathy O'Connor, at the helm. It had been working on a tender process since then.

Audionet will now create automated holding software that will allow agencies to interact with all radio stations’ traffic management systems. The software has been developed and testing between agencies and stations will take place in the first quarter of 2017.

The system will allow a media agency to view radio spots that are perfectly matched to their system, as well as spots that have been changed and allow them to accept the changes or query them with the station.

Roll-out will follow across stations and the target is to have the system operational across the entire industry by the third quarter 2017.

“An industry wide automated holdings system will make radio easy to transact with and is the first step for radio as an industry to move forward into the automated transaction space,” O’Connor says.

The committee selected a system that they say will fulfil the needs of all 261 CRA member stations and a technology that can integrate with pre-existing traffic and yield management systems. This automated holdings system will be the first fully operational common automated holdings system to operate across an entire media industry in Australia.

A world first?

Joan Warner, chief executive officer of CRA says it's an exciting development for the radio industry, which it believes to be an “Australian and possibly world first”.

“It’s an all of industry approach allowing automation and simplification of the interaction between the media buyer and a radio station,” Warner says.

Audionet chief executive officer, Dave Cox, says Audionet is passionate about making radio advertising more attractive, relevant and profitable and that together with CRA, it's creating solutions to allow agencies, advertisers and radio networks “to seamlessly deliver effective radio campaigns”.

In addition to increasing efficiency, the automated holdings system is said to reduce the enormous amount of paperwork generated by the ad booking process. Audionet estimates stations and agencies across Australia each year generate paper that if stacked would reach 170 metres high, as tall as the Australia Square Tower in the Sydney CBD.

The next step

The second phase of the process will investigate data segmentation. This investigation will commence in early 2017 and will review all of the rich research data already available such as GfK ratings, online and app statistics and consumer insights research. In partnership with agencies, the industry aims to identify and establish data segments that integrate the massive amount of data already collected in relation to commercial radio for use by advertisers and agencies.

The third phase will build on the achievements and feedback from the first two to develop an appropriate approach for the commercial radio industry to trade programmatically.

In a previous AdNews print edition, Australian Radio Network COO Michael Harvey told AdNews that programmatic is a challenge for all media but that for the radio sector “working together as an industry makes sense”.

“Each company, while incredibly competitive between each other faces similar challenges,” Harvey said.

“Joint initiatives have the aim of continuing to demonstrate not only the ongoing strength of the radio audience, but also the ongoing relevance of radio and its multi-platform capabilities in a shifting media environment.

“A united view and approach on programmatic would ensure a more simplified and consistent delivery of campaigns for agencies and advertisers.”

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