iHeartMedia and Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries release the results of a study conducted by Morning Consult and Advertiser Perceptions that explores the growing disparity between consumer values and behaviors and marketing priorities in the U.S. They say that the report “underscores the increasing urgency for marketers to reset and realign their marketing and media plans with American consumers to ensure the success of campaigns in an increasingly polarized post-COVID economy.” iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman comments, “This research is a reminder of how different we marketers are from today’s consumers, especially post-pandemic. Based on these results, we need to challenge ourselves as we build marketing and media plans to be sure we use real consumer data and not just trust our instincts and personal experiences. These personal biases are too detached from the consumers most marketers are trying to engage, and which are often behind major marketing misfires. This study aims to level-set the conversation to benefit both our audiences and advertisers.” Some of the key findings from the report include: 1) While 40% of consumers report that they’ve never heard of NFTs, that number drops to 0% for marketers; 2) 62% of consumers have never heard of the TV show “Succession,” while less than 5% of marketers have never heard of “Succession”; and 3) Almost one-third of consumers have never heard of pickleball, while all marketers [surveyed] have heard of pickleball. The findings were presented by iHeartMedia’s Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia’s Digital Audio Group, and author and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell at iHeartMedia’s AudioCon 2023 on Wednesday (9/13).
iHeartMedia announces that it is launching Ruby, the first dedicated team of its kind from a major media company committed entirely to the production, sales and marketing of branded podcasts. The company says it has “built one of the fastest-growing slate of branded podcasts globally with 30 original series from major brands such as T-Mobile, IBM, Intuit QuickBooks and Mattress Firm,” and that the “launch of Ruby represents an expanded commitment to one of iHeartMedia’s most premium products allowing advertisers to engage audiences with creative, longform native content.” iHeartMedia goes on to say, “Ruby’s branded podcasts allow advertisers and their brand partners to spend upwards of 30-45 minutes with their target audience in a unique environment, with opportunities for storytelling that are not possible anywhere else in their media mix including social video. With distribution across the iHeartRadio app and all other major platforms, native podcasts from Ruby connect brands to audiences by translating brand messaging, products and services into original and engaging stories that audiences love.” See more about Ruby here.
By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling on Sunday
Talk show talent, program directors, show producers and broadcast business decision-makers represent the core readership of this publication. Sometimes we are so close to something that we fail to see it for what it really is. That is the case of the “talk show host” in American radio. Michael Harrison refers to the often-shameless targeting of audiences as “the daily dance of affirmation.” I view the daily process of radio talk show hosting at its very core, as “the daily dance of freedom.”
Talk show hosts are a rare breed and endangered species who enjoy a unique freedom in American radio. Hosts can actually talk about whatever they want! Of course, they are subject to both the rewards and consequences of this freedom – but the process of doing a live talk show, sparked by opinion and controversy, is so spontaneous and uniquely dynamic that it cannot be controlled on a minute-to-minute level without losing the flavor that makes it so special and long-lived.
During a decade as a top-five market and network talk show host, no one has ever told me what to talk about. And for zillions of years as a programming executive prior to that, I never told a host what to talk about on their next show.
Talk hosts are granted remarkable radio freedom! Music jocks haven’t had that freedom since the 1960s. Music jocks have to get up the courage to ask permission to merely change the order of songs on their play list. Talk show hosts “own” three or four hours a day on a significant station or stations to say whatever they wish. That’s amazing! At first that freedom was a daunting, humbling challenge for me. However, I have been guided by my experience in programming or having launched some of the world’s most successful talk stations.
Based on that experience from both sides of the mic, here’s what works: Talk can entertain a listener of any age and demographic if the host talks about the listener’s day. I talk about my day framed for a listener, one listener – water in the basement, trouble with the sister-in-law, the parent-teacher conference, more trouble with the sister-in-law, the check engine light in the car never wants to go out, life at Walmart. I talk from a place of trust.
Trust that events that poke the landscape of our lives are a very big deal. Trust that I will never find the “right” topic on any editorial page. Trust that you, dear listener, already know who you are going to vote for in any election and that this English major does not have the magic wand to change your mind. Trust that my on-air opinion must never waiver or we have no show.
Listen to talk shows and stations that reach demos under 50: WMMS, Cleveland; KFI’s John and Ken; Casey Bartholomew at WBAP, Dallas; KMBZ, Kansas City; KFBK, Sacramento; the Elvis Duran Show; and streaming with Bubba the Love Sponge or Phil Hendrie. Those successful shows embrace the scope of conversation two best friends would have on the phone today. If two best friends would discuss a topic, why wouldn’t you share it on the air? If two best friends would never discuss it, why would you ever put it on the air?
The company announces that it will present two podcast studies in the first quarter of this year. “Hit Play, Boomer: Podcasting’s 55+ Opportunity” from NPR and Edison Research focuses on podcast listeners age 55 and older. The study explores what Edison terms “this oft-overlooked but highly influential demo” and their podcast listening behaviors. “The Gen Z Podcast Listening Report” from SXM Media and Edison Research “provides an in-depth look at the podcast habits and motivations of the elusive and much-desired Gen Z listener.” Edison vice president Megan Lazovick says, “Everything we do at Edison Research works to drive the audio space forward with the highest quality data. We believe these two studies will help advertisers understand the opportunities for audio to reach these two important generations and of course help the media companies who can deliver these audiences.”
Triton Digital and Salem Media Group extended their relationship that’s been in place since 2012. In addition to using Triton’s Omny Studio podcast management platform, its programmatic supply-side platform and TAP (Triton Advertising Platform), Salem Media Group will turn to Podcast Metrics Demos+ to provide enhanced metrics, including person-level demographic, sociographic, media behavior, and purchase intent data to further inform podcast audience development and advertising decisions. Salem CEO David Santrella says, “We are thrilled to extend our partnership with Triton Digital, which has helped drive a significant increase in digital revenue while delivering our engaging content to our growing audience. We’re looking forward to this next chapter together, gaining increased visibility and a more comprehensive understanding of the behaviors and demographics of our audiences.”