Google, dMarc, and Targeted Radio Advertising, Part Two

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In part one of this post, I described the acquisition of dMarc by Google, and asked how the joining together of these two companies might result in something innovative.

In this second part, I intend to look a little closer at the technology that dMarc brings to this joining of forces. It seems that most of that comes from two people, who also have been handling a lot of the oversight of day-to-day operations of the digital radio services company. The Chairman and CEO of dMarc is Chad Steelberg, and the President of the company is his brother, Ryan Steelberg. The bios page (internet archive link) of the dMarc site tells us some about their backgrounds and history with the company. What I found interesting was twenty-two pending patent applications over at the USPTO office with their names upon them, with the brothers listed as co-inventors.

Five of those patent applications were published yesterday, and they do a nice job of explaining the transformation of radio advertising, from a slow and unwieldy process, to one that can be managed and controlled quickly and tracked easily from the perspective of advertisers and stations. From the dMarc web site, it appears that much of the technology described from the patent filings has been implemented.

The patents are officially assigned to dMarc rather than Google, though on four of the five, Google is listed as a correspondent with the patent office, playing a role in the filing and communications between the patent office and the inventors and assignees.

The New Patent Applications

In addition to sharing a publication date, the following documents also contain much of the same language, and appear to be very closely related.

All of them talk about some of the existing difficulties that face advertisers who may need to have either realtime, or at least very timely information concerning which of their advertisements played when and where, to see what type of impact their efforts on broadcast radio may have had. In the background sections of the patent filings, the documents discuss much of the inefficencies of a reporting system that could take up to a month to give details to those advertisers, while possibly including errors and omissions.

Attempts to identify and track where and when select radio advertising campaigns and radio broadcast programming are broadcast over the air have, to date, included using computer automated or manual listening posts deployed in geographic markets to record, log and analyze radio broadcasts over the air to identify songs, advertisements, and selected programming. Advertisers may contract with broadcast monitoring firms to receive reports on what advertising and radio programming was broadcast. Such a mechanism is error-prone, inefficient, and untimely. Marketers and advertisers, who often focus on increasing sales and driving product and service demand, do not have the time to wait for reports to be generated, particularly when, even after waiting for a report, the report may include discrepancies and errors.

What the inventors state is called for is a way for advertisers to easily be able to monitor and track the delivery of radio advertising. This would include real-time, tailored and accurate reports showing things such as on which stations ads were played and when, and enough information about the stations and the programs so that the advertisers could identify which audience heard their messages, so that they can make informed decisions about the effectiveness of their efforts with radio ads in comparison to responses for those ads and sales numbers possibly related to them.

I briefly discuss these five patent applications below, but I want you to keep in mind that the processes described within them may not be what has actually been developed, or will be developed.

None of these describe an integration with a system like Google’s adwords, but hopefully they provide a sense of some of the unique issues that surround advertising during radio broadcasts, and may give some insight into issues involved in such a joining of internet adwords and radio media insertions.

Optimizing Use of Advertising Time

This first patent application looks at the problem of having unsold or underpaid advertising spots in a broadcast, and being able to fill gaps that might otherwise be filled with public service announcements or low paying advertisements. It is an effort to more effective optimize what ads get played when, and fill available advertising slots in a broadcast with advertisements.

System and method for broadcast target advertising
Invented by Ryan Steelberg and Chad Steelberg
Correspondence Name: Google / Fenwick
US Patent Application 20060212898
Published September 21, 2006
Filed on May 23, 2005

Abstract

A system for developing plays of media content is disclosed. The system for developing plays of media content includes a hub that is at least partially remote from a media content play point that at least partially controls the plays of the media content, at least one input associated with the hub that recieves non-play content indicative of a response to the plays of the media content, at least one module communicatively connected to said hub that parses the non-play content, wherein the parsed non-play content enables the hub to create at least one template for development of subsequent ones of the plays of the media content, and wherein the subsequent ones of the plays of the media content created in accordance with the template are returned to the hub for insertion to that portion of the plays of the media content controlled by the hub.

Automating Scheduling of Ads Across Stations

The booking of ads on radio stations and networks usually involves manual processes which can make it difficult to focus upon or accept small focused radio ads. The creative process for producing advertisments can take weeks, and if there is limited management of the creative with a long time to broadcast, ads may become outdated or not address the needs of an advertiser in a timely manner. A lack of timely reporting on scheduling, broadcasting, delivery and airplay checks doesn’t help.

Coordinating an ad campaign over multiple radio stations over a set period of time can take weeks to plan and successfully launch. A faster and less expensive way of managing ads, which would allow for an advertiser to effectively consider market, radio formats, demographics of audiences, and timing around events would be desirable. Automating the process could make a considerable difference to advertisers. This next patent filing describes a way to do that.

Method for placing advertisements in a broadcast system
Invented by Ryan Steelberg and Chad Steelberg
US Patent Application 20060212409
Published September 21, 2006
Filed on July 20, 2005

Abstract

A media play traffic system is disclosed. The media play traffic system includes at least one hub at least partially remote from at least two media play points, and a normalizer associated with the hub, wherein said normalizer normalizes data inputs for the at least two media play points, wherein the normalization enables importation of a media play list to, and subsequent media play of the imported media play list from, each of the media play points.

Tracking and Automating Delivery of Advertising

This patent describes a pretty intelligent approach to inserting advertisements into broadcasts during the presentation of different programming, and during different times of day. If you’ve ever wondered why certain ads or songs or features are played at specific times during broadcasts, this patent filing might provide some insight. There is often a fair amount of flexibility in a radio broadcast and space for unsold advertising time can shrink and grow during a typical day. Ads during different parts of the day, and during certain programming may be more or less expensive based upon those times, and when and where media is inserted. Being able to easily manage and track this information, and insert ads in open slots can be helpful to advertisers and radio stations.

System and method for broadcast tagging
Invented by Ryan Steelberg and Chad Steelberg
Correspondence Name: Google / Fenwick
US Patent Application 20060212899
Published September 21, 2006
Filed on May 23, 2005

Abstract

A system for directing play content for a media play is disclosed. The system for directing play content for a media play includes a hub that is at least partially remote from a media play point and that directs at least a portion of the play content for the media play for occurrence at the media play point, at least one locating reference associated with a location of the play content, at least one module at the media play point that, pursuant to at least one instruction from said hub comprising non-play content, accesses the locating reference to enable a preemption of a first scheduled content with an insertion of the play content associated with the locating reference based on the non-play content.

An Effective Interface to Use to Advertise

Want some insight into exactly how advertisements are scheduled into a radio day? When premium advertising rates might kick in? How realtime reporting and audio auditing might take place in a broadcast environment, as well as preemption of some ads, and insertion of others? This patent application covers those topics while also discussing the use of a management console to help an advertiser and stations track the play of advertisements.

Management console providing an interface for featured sets of digital automation systems
Invented by Ryan Steelberg and Chad Steelberg
Correspondence Name: Google / Fenwick
US Patent Application 20060212901
Published September 21, 2006
Filed on December 15, 2005

Abstract

A management console located proximate to a hub for managing at least one radio broadcast is disclosed. The console includes a connection to a digital automation system, the digital automation system directing the at least one radio broadcast and a software suite suitable for providing an interface for feature sets of the digital automation system via the connection.

Selling Radio Advertising

If you’ve looked through some of the other patent applications that I’ve listed above, you’ve seen that one of the major issues in radio broadcast advertising is the need to fill empty slots that may or may not become open and available during the course of a day. Another is a need for realtime reporting and information about the stations and audiences that may be listening to those ads.

Without an effective and fast reporting system which includes information about sizes and makeups of audiences, it can be difficult to sell those ads. Without good management tools to allow potential advertisers to easily insert ads into a broadcasting day, those slots may be filled with public service announcements or some type of filler material. This patent filing looks at the advertising buying environment, and advertising rates and methods to insert advertisements.

System and method for purchasing broadcasting time
Invented by Ryan Steelberg and Chad Steelberg
Correspondence Name: Google / Fenwick
US Patent Application 20060211369
Published September 21, 2006
Filed on December 15, 2005

Abstract

A system and method for developing plays of media content is disclosed. A system for developing plays of media content includes a hub that is at least partially remote from a media content play point that at least partially controls the plays of the media content and at least partially controls the media content play point that plays the media content; at least one input associated with the hub that receives first non-play content regarding the media content play point and second non-play content and the media content from at least one system user wherein the first non-play content enables selection of the second non-play content and the media content by the at least one system user; at least one module communicatively connected to said hub that parses the first and second non-play content, wherein the parsed non-play content enables the hub to at least partially control the at least one media content play point for the media content as to location, time, and subsequent play by the media content play point of the media content; and at least one output associated with the hub that communicates with the hub which effectuates the hub’s at least partial control of the media content play point.

Conclusion

There are many unique aspects to inserting media into radio broadcasts that internet advertisers hoping to broaden their range from the web to the radio will need to become acquainted with. Time of day, type of station, demographics related to different audiences, impact of placement and proximity of ads to popular songs are some of the issues that will need some studying to perform such media insertions effective.

The patent filings from dMarc show that they appear to be innovators and a great match for a Google looking to broaden their reach across different media. It will be interesting to see the movement of internet advertisers to radio, and leaves me wondering what type of impact that will have upon radio broadcasts. I sort of expect less public service announcements, but more smaller businesses and local advertisers able to take advantage of radio advertising once this merger of adwords and radio ads takes place.

I’d guess (probably correctly) that the patents I’ve listed are more than enough for most folks interested in this topic, but for those who want to dig deeper, I’m closing this post with a list of other patent applications filed by the Steelberg brothers. There are a couple of older granted patents that the company holds which I’m not including.

Additional Patent Applications Assigned to dMarc filed by Chad and Ryan Steelberg

Dynamic selection and scheduling of radio frequency communications (20060036514)
Published February 16, 2006

Dynamic selection and scheduling of radio frequency communications (20060020965)
Published January 26, 2006

Dynamic creation, selection, and scheduling of radio frequency communications (20060019642)
Published January 26, 2006

Broadcast monitoring system and method (20050283795)
Published December 22, 2005

Broadcast monitoring system and method (20050278769)
Published December 15, 2005

System and method for providing a digital watermark (20050278746)
Published December 15, 2005

System and method for optimizing media play transactions (20050278736)
Published December 15, 2005

System and method for utilizing dual feedback loops (20050273835)
Published December 8, 2005

Dynamic data delivery apparatus and method for same
Published December 8, 2005

System and method for broadcast play verification (20050266834)
Published December 1, 2005

Dynamic data delivery apparatus and method for same>/a> (20050266814)
Published December 1, 2005

Broadcast monitoring system and method for intelligent optimization (20050266796)
Published December 1, 2005

System for broadcast play verification and method for same (20050265396)
Published December 1, 2005

Dynamic data delivery apparatus and method for same (20050255852)
Published November 17, 2005

Dynamic data delivery apparatus and method for same (20050255804)
Published November 17, 2005

Dynamic data delivery apparatus and method for same (20050202781)
Published September 15, 2005

Method and apparatus using geographical position to provide authenticated, secure, radio frequency communication between a gaming host and a remote gaming device (20030139190)
Published July 24, 2003

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3 thoughts on “Google, dMarc, and Targeted Radio Advertising, Part Two”

  1. Very interesting – would be interesting to have an update on this to see what advances have been made. I notice that the patents listed here are a few years old – I wonder what new and approaches are being adopted now.

  2. Hi Peter,

    Hard to tell at this point whether Google is going to continue to push into radio advertising. The Steelberg brothers both left Google in 2007, and may be pursing some of the idea that surfaced at DMarc, while Google appears to put their radio advertising plans in hiatus earlier this year.

    Chad Steelberg issued a press release on February 12, 2009 that included this statement:

    “Despite our departure from Google in February of 2007, Ryan and I are disappointed in Google’s announcement this afternoon of its decision to shut down the Audio broadcast division. Radio is a ubiquitous global media, entertaining hundreds of millions of people and servicing hundreds of thousands of advertisers world-wide.

    Their new ventures, mentioned in the press release, look to continue forward with an advertising system aimed at radio.

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