How Marketron Brought Radio Into the Cloud Era

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-09-01

How Marketron Brought Radio Into the Cloud Era

Most IT people already know that the sky's the limit in the cloud and that subscription services are getting more specialized all the time. At first, functions such as human resource management, health care services, accounting, sales applications, and other business use cases were the pioneers in enterprise clouds, and they remain standard use cases.

Now users can do anything from turning sprinklers and lights on or off at home, to farm analytics, to running a data center. What you might not have known is that you now can run a radio or television station via cloud service.

For generations, all functionality in a radio station, for example, happened in the same physical office. The traffic department moved its information to the on-air staff, and that all was separated from the account executives. Connecting the dots could often be a daunting task, especially if ad copy and art was late or simply out of sync.

Running a Radio Station from Poolside?

Imagine a radio or television program director sitting out at the pool, checking the ad and program lineup on an iPad and making changes as needed on the fly via the Web. Of course, program directors wouldn't be caught dead doing their work in this manner, but in theory it's possible. This is now made real through a company called Marketron.

Marketron is a veteran of the communications business, consisting of a rollup of previous companies totaling about 40 years in operation. For years, broadcast media companies relied on client-based software to handle ad traffic: where and when the ads ran, what they cost, at what frequency, and so on.

Marketron's Mediascape platform is a SaaS solution in the cloud -- or on-premises, whichever a client prefers -- that allows media organizations to operate their stations' processes easier and more efficiently.

"Marketron has moved over the last two or three years to a more open platform -- a business-intelligence business where we are moving that data seamlessly through the organization," CEO Jeff Haley told eWEEK. "We've become more of a business information provider, versus a traditional trafficker."

Radio: Still an $18 Billion Business

Even though the Internet has become the de facto go-to source for media in the second decade of the 21st century, enterprises still spend more than $18 billion on radio advertisements in the U.S. An amazing 80 percent of that ad spend -- approximate $15 billion -- flows through Marketron's systems, which clearly makes it the No. 1 ad-traffic software provider in an industry that is typically perceived as antiquated.

"Mediascape is a cloud platform to plug in multiple products going back to 2010. About a third of our customer base of 1,400 media companies has migrated onto that platform," Haley said.

"If you're going to move all this data seamlessly through the organization from the traffic department to the C-suite and all the way down to the account executive, we think it has to be Web-based and accessible anywhere, anytime," Haley said.

This is the dashboard of the C-level executive-level version of Mediascape, which company and sales specialists can use to see real-time numbers.

KFOG, a Real-World Example


Here's an example of how Mediascape works.

"Let's take radio station KFOG, a popular station in San Francisco," Haley said. "They do about 14 minutes of commercials per hour, 24/7. The trafficking of those spots historically was kind of a post-sale organizational task for the business, just to be sure the spots ran.

"Today, KFOG operates on a cloud-based platform where the initial proposal, to the order, to the trafficking of the spot, to the pacing of where the spot plays, runs on one system called Mediascape."

Transparent View of All the Data

The account manager can use Mediascape's yield management tool to assess what price to propose for spots -- and whether or not they have inventory to sell, Haley said.

"Then they electronically transfer that proposal and the orders back and forth between them and the advertising agency. Eventually, something gets bought, and that goes into a traffic module that schedules the spot and ensure that it runs, and so on," Haley said.

At the same time, sales managers and C-level executive can track each or all of these transactions and see what's in the pipeline, or what ran historically. "This gives them much better visibility into the business," Haley said.

Haley, a 20-plus-year veteran of the industry, is a former president of the RAB (Radio Advertising Bureau).

Marketron Quick Facts

  • Founded in 1969
  • What it does: Radio/TV media controls and continuity
  • Serves about 7,000 media organizations globally
  • 80% of the $15 billion in U.S. radio advertising spend flows through Marketron solutions
  • Products: Mediascape cloud-based media platform; Marketron Traffic, Visual Traffic and DeltaFlex brands and TV sales leadership under the TvSCAN and REP-PAK brands.
  • 43 of the top 50 radio organizations use Marketron
  • 150 employees
  • CEO: Jeff Haley
  • Privately held
  • Headquartered in Sun Valley, ID

 Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features and Analysis at eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz

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