Katz - Horizon 200

In a milestone for how radio is bought and sold, Horizon Media has placed a programmatic ad buy for Geico airing on multiple radio stations in two markets. Said to be the first-ever live programmatic transaction for spot radio, the pilot test uses Expressway from Katz, the automated ad exchange being developed by Katz Radio Group.

The spots are airing this week on Entercom stations in Boston and Buffalo in anticipation of the early 2016 launch of the automated Katz exchange, which is intended to streamline and simplify the radio buying process and open the industry to the growing pool of ad dollars being placed through programmatic exchanges.

Horizon and Katz will monitor ad delivery and performance of the campaign through a cloud-based platform powered by Jelli, the technology company that Katz has partnered with to build the ad exchange. Jelli CEO Mike Dougherty says the exchange will work with the buying and planning software used by all agencies and advertisers and will “intelligently select the best available inventory based on the buyer’s specifications.”

Strata, one of the largest major processing systems used for media buys has built connections for Expressway from Katz to integrate with its buying systems. While parts of the negotiation process are automated, the Katz exchange doesn’t use real-time bidding (RTB) which is a common practice in digital display advertising.

“Radio has a phenomenal opportunity to drive new, substantial revenue to our sector by creating the media world’s first industry-wide programmatic buying exchange,” said Mark Rosenthal, CEO of Katz Media Group.

Lauren Russo, senior VP & managing director of audio & promotions at Horizon Media, which placed the Geico campaign, says programmatic buying gives the agency and its clients “more viewability in real time on key data sets and streamlines the negotiation process.” In addition to being able to tweak campaigns on the fly, it also increases accountability and gives buyers the ability to prove the ROI of their audio advertising, Russo said.

Geico VP of marketing Ted Ward said an industry-wide ad exchange will allow the insurer to better identify the most effective, targeted and efficient audio environments for its campaigns. “This platform will give us better visibility into what programs, stations and dayparts have the best opportunity for increased engagement to further reinforce the value of audio as a key driver in our marketing mix,” Ward said in a statement.