Local US TV has come a long way – but now it needs to go through another revolution, to change the way it sells its advertising.

“Stations historically have been more difficult to buy than they needed to be,” says Eric Mathewson, CEO of WideOrbit, a software company aiming to help them do that. “Agencies would spend roughly as much money buying local television stations as it costs them in labour to do so.

“Stations always had a great product to buy. It rang the cash register for the clients, but it was just challenging from a transactional basis.”

So, 20 years ago, WideOrbit set out to create a solution. San Francisco-based WideOrbit offers a software platform that handles scheduling, billing, content management and invoicing for mostly local TV ads.

Today, it says its software runs ad revenue for 5,600 TV stations, about 93% of local television broadcast revenues, around half of radio, around a third of cable networks as well as digital platforms.

Next up, Mathewson thinks the local TV  industry is ready for a big shake-up in the way it prices what it sells.

He is seeing a shift, from the historic method of measuring and selling TV eyeballs using rough “gross rating points” (GRPs) to selling on real viewership, by digital-style impression.

“It’s going to roll out very quickly,” he tells Janus Insights & Strategy’s Howard Shimmel for Beet.TV. “It’s very easy for a station account executive to issue a proposal in impressions versus cost per point and have it all the way go through order entry, scheduling, invoice generation, receipt of cash, the whole workflow.

“That’s going to happen in very short order. The buyers are on board. The planners obviously already plan to impressions.”

WideOrbit’s programmatic TV open marketplace lets ad buyers make automated, data-informed offers in more than 1,000 stations and networks.

WideOrbit is bringing workflow automation to spot TV advertising in a bid to stop money leaking out into other forms of media.

It wants to speed up the old manual system in which an ad buyer passes campaign requirements to a buying representative, on to stations and back to the buyer, which WideOrbit says takes three-and-a-half-days.

The interview took place at the at the TVB Forward conference in New York.  It is part of a series of Beet.TV’s coverage of the conference.  For more videos, please visit this page