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iHeartMedia, Pushkin Pitch for Audio Ad Dollars, By Suggesting Marketers Aren’t Spending in Tune With Consumers

While Madison Avenue seems focused on shiny new technologies, iHeartMedia is encouraging advertisers to get back to basics.

Research conducted by Morning Consult and Advertiser Perceptions on behalf of the audio-media giant and podcaster Pushkin Media found a growing disparity between what marketers think top consumer priorities are and the things to which consumers are actually gravitating. While Madison Avenue seems to think consumers aspire to nosh on charcuterie and watch “Succession,” consumers seem more interested in U.S. travel and going to barbecues. The disparity suggests advertisers are chasing after a niche interested in luxury and wealth, but ignoring the desires of a larger part of their overall potential customer base.

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“We are seeing a lot of human bias creeping into marketing decisions,” says Gayle Troberman, chief marketing officer of iHeartMedia, in an interview. The recent surveys, she adds, reveal a big difference “between what American consumers post-Covid feel, believe, value and joy and what marketers post-Covid think is of value and are enjoying and prioritizing.”

The research suggests, for example, that marketers seem fascinated by NFTs nd pickleball as examples of consumer interest, but indicate a significant portion of their likely consumer base has never heard of such things.

The executives think advertisers should apply the findings to their audio advertising budgets, noting that many consumers continue to listen to terrestrial radio as well as podcasts. “The average brand spends about 9% of their marketing budget on audio,” says Troberman, even though consumers spend about 31% of their media time with it, whether it be while driving or via use of mobile connected speakers or earbuds.

The consumer responses were collected via a poll by Morning Consult between August 8 and10, 2023, among a sample of 2,206 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

The marketer responses were collected via a poll by Advertiser Perceptions between August 14 and 21, 2023 among a sample of 200 marketer and agency contacts from The Advertiser Perceptions Ad Pros Community and trusted third-party partners as needed. The “Ad Pros Community” represents the brands that are spending the most on advertising and marketing in the U.S.

Marketers could use audio to add heft to campaigns already earmarked for video and social, , says Conal Byrne, CEO of the company’s digital audio group, in an interview. “You will gain reach in audio and it will make your other campaigns in TV and social media perform better,” he adds.

Besides, the executives argue, audio listeners have an intimate connection to the content they’ve chosen. “I have them for 45 minutes of uninterrupted time. I am telling them a story and people are not bailing on the episodes,” says Malcolm Gladwell, the writer and author who is co-founder of Pushkin Industries and host of the podcast “Revisionist History.” “I would think that would prove to be a much more powerful way to reach someone than with traditional things like TV commercials.”

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