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New Podcast: “Amplified Storytelling,” with iHeart’s Eric Hadley

In this episode of the Above the Cloud podcast, we ask iHeartMedia EVP of Marketing Eric Hadley to talk about the state of local radio and how it is evolving into “all things audio.” 

Hadley will be speaking at the LSA’s upcoming Localogy Place conference, October 15-16 in Austin, Texas.

We share some podcast highlights below with timestamps that take you directly to the relevant place in the episode.

Podcasts Are Great for Brands

(Starting at 2:50) Podcast are incredibly popular, but Hadley notes there are reasons beyond mere popularity that make podcast a great environment for brands, and thus an exciting business model for media companies like iHeart.

One eye-popping stat Hadley shares is that “90% of people listen to the full podcast. There is very little ad-skipping.” He also noted that 30% of U.S. adults listen to a podcast each month.

And the relatively light ad load podcasts (maybe four ads) gives marketers a strong share of voice on podcast. This also helps explain why the most popular podcasts command very high ad rates.

One of the reasons Hadley sites for the low rate of ad-skipping in podcasts is the ads are pretty seamlessly woven into the show, with the host typically reading the ads in the same tone and tempo as the show itself.

“They are really like brand integrations,” Hadley said.

He cites as an example of this Ron Burgundy (aka Will Ferrell) reading an ad for Charmin bath tissue. (Starting at 5:10)

(Starting at 7:23) Another big opportunity for iHeart has been in developing sponsored podcasts for brands who want to create their own walled gardens of content. He cites the popular “Spit” podcast produced for 23andMe that delves into cultural issues surrounding genetic testing. The key to the success of these podcasts is they need to stand on their own as great content.

As Hadley points out, the balancing act with podcasts is, “They can’t only be marketing-driven, or no one will listen. And they can’t only be consumer-driven, because you have to get paid.”

Doubling Down with Stuff Media

(Starting at 13:11) iHeart showed it was serious about becoming a podcasting leader by acquiring Stuff Media for $55 million in 2018. Stuff is a podcast production house best known for the popular “How Stuff Works” podcast and various spinoffs. This gave iHeart a great library of podcast as well as a team that could develop new original podcast for iHeart.

“We are always looking for great acquisitions in the audio space and there is no one better than those guys,” Eric said.

Integration is Everything

(Starting at 18:36) iHeart’s business has three major components. It has about 850 radio stations, many of the dominant players in major markets. It has podcasts. And it produces about 20,000 live events each year. Eric notes the combination of these assets offers unique scale and cross-promotional opportunities.

“Our platform has a lot of flexibility to rive results for marketers, because we have such a huge audience,” Eric said.

You can listen to the full podcast here:


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