What: Programmatic audio advertising platform Jelli has raised a US$21 million Series B funding round, bringing the platform total funding to US$37.6 million.The proceeds from the round will be further invested in powering two major partnerships: the launch of ExpressWay for national sales firm Katz and a private audio exchange partnership with iHeartMedia.
Why it matters: Programmatic audio advertising for broadcasters is still an immature market: roughly 4 trillion audio ads run every year in the United States, but most of the ads in radio and audio are handled in traditional ways. “This financing round is about preparing for a significant shift, where both traditional radio broadcasting and digital audio advertising all start to become programmatic,” said Mike Dougherty, CEO of Jelli.
Jelli, a programmatic audio advertising platform, has raised a US$21 million Series B funding round led by Relay Ventures, Intel Capital, First Round Capital, iHeartMedia and Universal Music Group. This round brings the platform total funding to US$37.6 million.
The takings raised in the round will be invested in supporting two major partnerships forged this year: one is the launch of ExpressWay from Katz ( from Katz Media Group), an audio ad exchange powered by Jelli’s platform. The other is a private audio exchange partnership with iHeartMedia.These partnerships offer advertisers and publishers a SaaS platform to buy and sell radio advertising programmatically.
Jelli has been focusing primarily on rolling out these partnerships for the past six months. According to Mike Dougherty, CEO of Jelli, these efforts have generated significant growth. Prior to the partnerships, Jelli’s platform hosted 400 radio stations in 100 cities in the United States.Today, more than 830 radio stations use Jelli’s platform in more than 250 cities. Over the past year, Jelli has run several hundred ad campaigns for advertisers and agencies.
Programmatic audio advertising for broadcasters is still an immature market: roughly 4 trillion audio ads run every year in the United States, but most of the ads in radio and audio are handled in traditional ways.
Dougherty said programmatic audio advertising for broadcasters is still an immature market: roughly 4 trillion audio ads run every year in the United States, but most of the ads in radio and audio are handled in traditional ways, he said.
“We’re trying to bring programmatic to audio and radio.The product developments we’ll be doing with this round include significant investments in data management and data services, and more services for advertisers and agencies to plug into these exchanges,” said Dougherty. “There really isn’t a robust DSP for audio and we think there should be,” he added while pointing the fact that digital streaming and radio broadcast buyers alike could benefit from an audio DSP to leverage proprietary or licensed data to inform their audio buys.
“This financing round is about preparing for a significant shift, where both traditional radio broadcasting and digital audio advertising all start to become programmatic and sold through these exchanges,” Dougherty said. “Programmatic audio is evolving rapidly on all sides of the equation and, at some point, we won’t see a siloed approach between broadcast and digital.”
That broadcast/digital divide has been audio advertisers looking for scale ‘s main concern. Dougherty said its partnership with iHeartMedia is helping to clear that barrier. The broadcast giant hosts 245 million listeners in the United States per month, including 97 million monthly digital uniques, making it the largest radio outlet in the nation.
Programmatic advertising for broadcast
Programmatic advertising for broadcast is still a big challenge, as this is an industry niche that is still being shaped. According to Dougherty, radio scoops up US$1 of every US$10 of US ad budgets, but it’s the other US$9 that get all the attention in the programmatic development space.
“There’s a lot of investment in programmatic around digital and around video,” he said. “Getting the word out that audio is now programmatic is the next challenge we all face.”
In spite of the challenges, Dougherty said they’ve seen high demand from advertisers to buy broadcast audio ads programmatically. He strongly expects the profile of prospective clients to diversify.
“We’re seeing demand primarily from traditional radio advertisers and agencies who buy radio because this is a better way of executing, but we’re also going to see programmatic agencies and trading desks get involved, which is incremental demand because they’re not buying radio today. Our partners are sold out of whatever inventory they’re providing to the buy side,” Dougherty said.
Demand has been booming, as a matter of fact.Looking ahead to the next 12 months, Jelli will continue to scale its tech and bring more advertisers and inventory onto its platform and into its partner exchanges.
“ “As the technology platform supporting all those segments, we have to be ready for that,” said Dougherty.
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