SBD/February 20, 2013/Media

ESPN Debuts Tech To Enable Targeted Online Radio Ads During National Broadcasts

ESPN Digital Audio is “unveiling a dynamic cloud-based ad insertion program with the hope of targeting listeners by device, location, age and gender in real time across live national broadcasts,” according to Charlie Warzel of ADWEEK. The new technology, developed with online radio provider Abacast, is “a departure from the standard, static ad insertion platforms available to online radio providers where ads must undergo somewhat cumbersome coding and delivery processes.” This means that “during large radio broadcast events" like the BCS Championship game, ESPN will be able to “serve individual ads to each one of those listeners during live breaks.” For online radio it is a “first-of-its-kind technology for an industry largely behind the times in digital ad technology.” ESPN Digital Audio Senior Manager Blair Cullen said, "This was a huge hole in the radio industry. Before, it was one stream to thousands of people, and it didn't make sense that we were targeting women with a lot of the ads that were running. Now, hundreds of thousands of people are going to get different ad breaks.” Warzel noted the “ripple effects may be slow across the radio industry.” ESPN is in a “very small class in terms of scale, with large listenership and four physical radio properties” in N.Y., L.A., Chicago and Dallas (, 2/19).
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