Marketron bulks up its mobile business

Inside Radio

As broadcasters have ventured into digital and mobile business, media software company Marketron has followed. In a transaction that will expand its new media resources, Marketron has struck a deal to buy Emmis Interactive.

Marketron CEO Jeff Haley says Emmis has been building out a digital presence for radio with a content management system, much of which will fit nicely into the one-year-old Marketron Mobile division. "Emmis Interactive has developed tools and innovations that allow station programmers and advertisers to know a lot about their listeners and we want to take those same tools and put them in our mobile business," he explains. "There are products and tools that are embedded into their system that we can really pluck out and unleash to our mobile vendors."

Selling will allow the business Emmis built over the past 13 years "to expand more rapidly and impact the industry with a wider footprint," Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan says. Under terms of the deal Emmis will benefit financially as Marketron expands those products and service offerings to a larger customer base. By selling the division Emmis says it will focus more on the commercialization of its Smartphone application and Tagstation, the cloud-based engine that supplies data for the smartphone application and digital dashboards.

No purchase price has been made public so far, but Emmis does say in a regulatory filing that Emmis Interactive had $4.9 million in revenue in the year ending August 31. It also notes that the division was losing money.

Haley believes Marketron's reach will help change that. "It's very difficult to grow scale when you have that small a group, even though there are great products," he says. There are also built-in efficiencies: Marketron has its own sales force and 60-person client service team, as well as other duplicative backroom functions. Haley says a "handful" of Emmis Interactive employees with join Marketron, including executives Deb Esayian and Rey Mena, who'll oversee the integration of the assets and operations. Emmis has created a $600,000 severance fund to help those who aren't able to find a new position with the company.

The deal comes following the sale of Marketron to BlackRock Kelso Capital. Haley says the company is looking at other potential acquisitions, mostly in the digital and mobile space, and expects the company will continue to grow. "We expect it to be a transformative time for Marketron," he says.