Cross Platform Addressablity? Q&A with Benjamin Masse

Benjamin Masse’s background is in anthropology which is not as far afield from digital media as one might think. He is an entrepreneur whose canny assessment of consumer behavior has helped him in the music recommendation system sector, then at Google, and now at Triton Digital, a local radio advertising and branding platform.  He says that his Masters degree in anthropology “opens our minds up to track anything that interacts with the consumer including software. When you build software you should not think of only building software for a specific culture. You need to broaden your scope.”
In this fascinating interview, Masse talks about his company, the concept of addressable radio and its application to television, the use of GPS, segments and the metrics that result and the future of sales in the changing marketplace. He also looks ahead and offers some predictions on the media landscape for the next five years.  

There are five videos in the interview:

Subject                                                 Length (in minutes)
Background and Triton                              (4:47)
Addressable Radio                                      (6:44)
GPS, Metrics, Segments                             (9:42)
Predictions                                                  (6:17)
Future Sales and International                    (7:21)

CW: Tell me about Triton Digital.

BM: Triton Digital was created about eight years ago. It is a company that focuses on digital audio. We have four lines of business. One is streaming. So when you listen to radio on digital signals on the web player or mobile player, the streaming of that FM station is actually done by Triton. The second line of service is measurement. When you want to measure the time spent listening to digital audio it can be from a radio broadcaster, an online music service like Pandora, you don’t measure by page views like a lot of measurement systems are doing out there. You need to take the time spent listening and make sure that there is not a robot listening but a real human. The third line of business is advertising, which I head up. I am responsible for how we inject the ad to make it relevant to the listener and so that includes everything around ad serving and digital audio advertising. The fourth line of business is all of the loyalty and engagement programs such as the radio fan club – making sure that the mailing list is curated and even the website of the radio station.

CW: Can this type of audio addressability be used to help target ads in local television? If so how?

BM: We’re obsessively focused on all things audio. That said, similar technologies can be used for local targeting of streaming TV ads. The local market opportunity is huge, and there are a number of companies working to capitalize on it across all types of media.

CW: Is there a cross platform opportunity here for an advertising who wants to buy both local radio and television?

BM: There is certainly an opportunity here for advertisers looking to augment the power of their existing media buys – a number of recent studies have shown that audio has the power to boost the effectiveness of advertising on other channels. In fact, many advertisers currently use streaming audio to complement online and offline buys across channels. Audio – and particularly local audio – has grown dramatically in the last couple of years and has become a very attractive platform. We’ve seen a ton of interest from advertisers who would like to buy audio spots in the same way they buy other media spots in order to enhance their overall mix.

Charlene Weisler interviews Benjamin Masse about his background and his company Triton Digital in this 4:47 minute video:

CW: It sounds to me that one of your businesses is addressable advertising for radio. How do you do that?

BM: Yes. For traditional radio we take the FM signal and we are replacing in real time the advertising that was broadcasted. So if you tune into a real FM receiver from like a CBS or Cumulus owned station and you open a web player or a mobile player, you have the same live signal when the music is playing or the voice is speaking but at the ad break we are replacing in real time all of the ads. So you could be listening to an LA based station or Montreal based station in New York City and you will get New York City based advertising. That is one way that we make it addressable. And then because of all of the technology behind programmatic advertising like cookies and device IDs from mobile phones, we can also personalize that advertisement. So if you have just booked a ticket to fly from New York to Europe, we can broadcast ads for travel insurance, for example. We are aware of this purchase because of a cookie that was dropped by the airline. So it is based on the one to one broadcast.

Is Addressable Radio possible? Benjamin Masse explains how it works to Charlene Weisler in this 6:44 minute video:

Charlene Weisler interviews Benjamin Masse about all aspects of his business scuh as GPS usage, metrics and segmentation in this 9:42 minute video.

Benjamin Massee shares some of his predictions of the media landscape with Charlene Weisler in this 6:17 minute video:

CW: What do you see as the benefit of programmatic in radio?

BM: Programmatic means a lot of things. The main thing it means is automation. We see that there are more and more requests for automation because it saves costs on both the agency and publishers side. By automation I mean that there is a brand that wants to advertise. They will hire an agency and they will ask that agency to figure out the best way to spend their advertising dollars to have brand exposure. In the old days of the Mad Men era they were having lunch and talking to publishers, signing paper agreements, sending creative to the publisher and hoping that the publisher would traffic that ad the right way. We see that many things involved in automation are to simplify that process and save costs. You don’t need a lot of hires on either side to be sure that the buy is tracked correctly.

CW: So it sounds to me that you are saying that media sales may not be the best career track for someone starting out today.

BM: Doing sales today is different but you are still need to have sales people. Like when you trade stock you can log into your bank account and start trading but you still need to have advisers. Investing in stocks used to require a trade to be done by a trader. Nowadays it is all automated and the prices are fully transparent. But you still need to talk to advisers. So I think that the sales people both on the publishers side and the buyers on the agency or brand side will still need to exist but they won’t be exchanging paper or even electronic agreements. They will be there to advise their clients.

Charlene Weisler interviews Benjamin Masse about the future of sales in a world of programmatic in this provocative 7:21 minute video: