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Catching up with Marketron, as it brings digital to radio advertising

Marketron’s offices in Hailey. Photo courtesy of Marketron

Radio, a venerable medium with a long history, is ready for the digital age.

That’s according to Jim Howard, CEO of Marketron, a Hailey-based company that originally provided revenue management software for broadcasters and is now moving into digital.

The company’s digital components let broadcasters sell additional, non-radio types of advertising, Howard said. Sales professionals can now offer not just radio ads, but also digital ads such as banner ads on websites or connected television systems such as Roku and YouTube, he said.

Marketron’s software also creates a log for advertising spots, which then goes to the automation system to play them over the air, as well as providing tools for invoicing and other business functions.

“If you’re a broadcaster, and you sell advertising, you can place all the orders in our software, which then can be managed by a traffic manager to decide where they’re going to play during the day,” Howard explained.

photo of jim howard

Jim Howard

photo of Jimshade Chaudhari

Jimshade Chaudhari

To help roll out the changes, Jimshade Chaudhari recently joined the company as senior vice president of product. Previously, he was Sling TV’s vice president, head of product & partnerships, where he managed product strategy, user experience and business development at the live over-the-top (OTT) streaming service. He saw Marketron as an opportunity to help radio broadcasters with the evolution of their business into the digital space and provide them with tools, he said.

Howard is also relatively new to the company.

In 2018, Diversis Capital, a Los Angeles-based private equity group, acquired Marketron for an undisclosed price. Howard was working for Diversis and joined the Marketron board, which then had an interim CEO, and became CEO himself in November.

Marketron has two other U.S. locations: Denver and Opelika, Alabama. Howard wouldn’t reveal the number of employees, but said it was under 1,000, more than a third of whom are in Hailey.

The advantage of the Marketron system is that advertisers can target their digital ads geographically, and so reinforce the radio ads, Howard said.

“It’s very nice to have common creative across mediums,” he said.

Radio has a strong brand and reach, while digital is targeted, which makes the combination more effective, he said.

While other companies are also working to apply technology to radio advertising, such as Boise’s Jelli, which was acquired in December by iHeartMedia, Marketron is different, Howard said. Jelli involves buying digital media in marketplaces, while the traditional radio advertising is not sold in marketplaces, he said.

Adding digital to the mix will help the radio industry, Howard said.

“The radio business is under a lot of threat from different directions,” he said. “Yet it’s growing, because they recognize they need to sell a broader range, tied into the management software they already have.”

With a system that allows digital ads to flow into the same system, Marketron can produce a single invoice and a single set of reports, he said.

“It’s shifting Marketron from helping customers operate their business efficiently, to growing their revenue,” he said.

Marketron is likely to add staff in Hailey, Howard said, but how many depends on how quickly revenue grows.

“We can add quite a few people there,” he said.

He likes the area himself; he and his family recently moved to Sun Valley from Los Angeles. In addition, he’s bringing a lot of people to Hailey for meetings.

“People love coming up here,” he said.

Howard is also looking to develop an internship programs with the University of Idaho, as well as in the company’s location in Alabama.

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