Jeff Haley updates Marketron progress

At the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Orlando, RBR-TVBR caught up with Jeff Haley, former RAB chief and current Marketron CEO to find out about the company’s latest offerings, what they mean for radio and how things are going after a year and a half running the show:

You have been CEO there for about a year and a half now. What were your first challenges and what accomplishments have you made so far?

Our first challenge was to re-organize our staff to better align our work with the needs of our customers. Second we re-capitalized our business and lastly we have aggressively pursued growth through the launch of new products.

What’s next for Marketron?

We expect to continue growing through product development. We are committed to migrating our business from client based software to Software as a Service (SAAS).

A year ago, BlackRock Kelso Capital has become Marketron’s majority shareholder and The Wicks Group has exited from its ownership position. How has that changed things, if at all?

It has given us a longer term perspective. The Blackrock Kelso team are patient and helpful partners.

What are some of the best ways radio can remain competitive in a changing media environment?

The key here is streamlining processes so it is easier for advertisers to do business with radio companies. With new software efficiencies, it becomes increasingly simple for advertisers and agencies to place buys with radio. On the station side, these new products have the added bonus of reducing costs in wasted manual labor and time-consuming processes. Software developments end up becoming a win-win for both radio and advertisers, as well as a contributor to the continued relevancy of radio in a changing media environment.

What have the media buyers been asking for on their side of the buy-sell equation?

The folks I talk to are always asking how we can make Radio easier to buy. I have seen some of our pure play radio businesses make real investment here and we risk losing orders if we don’t innovate around the radio transaction.

How can Radio cut costs on backend operations?

Marketron’s main initiative over the past couple years has been to develop products that help stations cut costs and increase business efficiencies. For one example, Marketron’s Network Connect product, which automates the processing of network orders and affidavits, saves stations on average of 8+ hours of labor a week. This time savings translates to tangible dollar savings and workflow efficiencies. Similarly, our new PayNow product enables advertisers and agencies to pay invoices electronically, and provides competitive processing rates that organizations will not be able to match with a third party processor. These digital bill payments can save Radio as much as 75% in accounts receivable costs.

Tell us more about “Pay Now”. How does it complete the loop in the media buying and selling process?

Our new digital bill payment service PayNow allows advertisers to electronically pay invoices from a secure portal. The benefits to radio stations are faster payments, reduced handling costs and error reduction. PayNow is the most recent addition in Marketron’s suite of features that allow broadcasters to invoice and receive payments electronically at dramatically reduced costs. Additionally, PayNow simplifies the payment of a station’s month-to-month contracts by providing a snapshot of all station billing and a complimentary statement analysis.

With the increasing shift to Digital and Mobile advertising, how can Radio capitalize on the growth and potential in those areas?

Marketron is dedicated to bringing best-in-class mobile, digital and interactive products to our customers in order to provide the tools necessary for exponential growth in the new digital world. Our customers can now not only reach their listeners while on the go, but can also develop 360 degree advertising campaigns for advertisers and agencies. This is a great opportunity for small and large markets alike, as it boosts the relevancy of radio and sets the stage for growth for traditional media as a whole.

What does “thinking cross channel” mean?

Valuable radio audiences aren’t just sitting glued to their radios. They move between media — posting on Facebook or Twitter, checking email, uploading photos to Instagram or Pinterest, using their cell phones and listening to radio. Brands that want to reach and engage them need to be all of these places.  Thinking cross-channel means thinking about radio fans in a 360-degree fashion that incorporates streaming media, digital media and social media into the mix.

How will the cloud benefit radio stations?

By driving data seamlessly through the Cloud, radio stations can now act as high-tech business information providers rather than old-school traffickers. The cloud improves advertiser efficiency, enabling marketers to capitalize on multiple platforms and geographies at the click of a mouse.  The portability of radio through streaming and podcasts has contributed to the popularity of radio websites for advertisers.  And, with revenue reports, budgets, billing information and data reports living in the cloud, account executives at both large and local radio stations can access info and control lineups remotely.

From your knowledge as RAB CEO: Radio has always been powerful locally. Is local still important?

Yes, local radio moves the needle, activating consumers like no other medium.

What are some ways that radio allows companies to better reach a local audience than other media?

Listeners feel an emotional connection with their preferred local stations and tend to be extremely loyal. This loyalty presents a valuable opportunity for advertisers to reach local audiences. Because ads can run frequently and listeners tend to stay tuned for long periods of time, a brand that is big in radio can create disproportionately large mindshare among listeners. Research has also shown that radio has a “multiplier effect” on other media, increasing recall of TV, newspaper, and Internet ads. Continuing to connect with local audiences adds value to advertisers by offering a unique opportunity to connect while simultaneously amplifying advertising in other media.