Broadcast Radio Giant Cumulus Joins DAX’s Programmatic Audio Exchange

Broadcast radio giant Cumulus Media is making programmatic audio sales a priority in 2019.

Cumulus said Monday that DAX, the programmatic audio exchange owned by UK broadcaster Global, will be the exclusive sales rep for streaming and programmatic inventory across its 433 stations.

Cumulus is the first terrestrial radio broadcaster to join DAX’s exchange, which represents pure-play streaming platforms such as TuneIn, Stitchr and Slacker Radio. Cumulus, which delivers over 400 million impressions per month across its streaming network, wanted a more targeted and automated way to sell.

“The one thing we hadn’t had was advanced targeting capabilities,” said Bryan Forbes, president of sales at Cumulus-owned network Westwood One. “Those are the capabilities DAX specializes in.”

Last year, Cumulus began collecting opt-in registration data on its listeners through a partnership with SAP-owned Gigya. Through DAX, Cumulus can match its first-party data with third-party data from Nielsen’s DMP to help brands better target their audiences across its network. Buyers that add Cumulus’ tag to their website or app can also measure engagement and attribution on streaming ads.

“There’s valuable information available to provide a more accurate picture of who an advertiser is reaching in our streams,” Forbes said.

While programmatic hasn’t been a huge initiative for Cumulus (sales are in the low single digits), the DAX partnership will potentially triple its programmatic sales this year, Forbes said.

“We’re very interested in increasing our capabilities there,” he said.

Programmatic is just a fraction of the $1 billion-plus digital audio market, but that number is growing quickly. While DAX’s buyers have historically been mostly programmatic advertisers moving money out of display, the platform is seeing an uptick in terrestrial radio buyers shifting budgets to programmatic audio.

“We’re seeing a big change in demand for buying audio programmatically,” said Matt Cutair, CEO at DAX.  “It’s not repurposed dollars only, but a lot of new brands.”

Cumulus adds scale, premium inventory and diverse content to DAX’s exchange, which launched in the United States in 2017 with the acquisition of sales rep firm AudioHQ. In addition to pure-play digital streamers, DAX exclusively represents eight of the United Kingdom’s largest broadcasters.

“I think we can do a low double-digit percentage of our business programmatically in 2019, which would be a pretty decent step from 2018,” Cutair said. “It’s a combination of the market moving in that direction and the fact that we’re getting more premium inventory.”

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