Measuring Media’s Power with iHeartMedia’s David Shiffman

How the leading audio platform proves the value of its audience and ad formats

Publishers today need to go beyond demographics or household ratings to show advertisers the true power of their platforms. Understanding their ad clients’  audiences and what motivates them to take actions with a brand is integral to this work. 

iHeartMedia, a pioneer in audio advertising, has been an innovator of ad solutions and measurement since its inception. iHeart Media’s EVP of Research and Measurement, David Shiffman, recently joined an Ad Age panel DISQO sponsored to discuss the dynamic landscape and where the advertising industry is headed as we face increased fragmentation and deprecating technologies for consumer identity. → Watch now: The Future of Ad Effectiveness in a Post-Cookie World

Q: Few mediums have the longevity of radio.  What's changed from the early days of measuring advertising effectiveness with listener data?

Digital listening has skyrocketed. Radio stations are now available across platforms and devices. So, it’s shifting from small panel-based measurement to directly observing the listening behaviors of millions of people. With that shift comes the ability to understand what listeners do, where they do it, and how they do it. 

At iHeartMedia, we take those digital observations and map them to the total broadcast universe to enhance targeting and optimize campaigns for specific audience segments. This data explosion is powering a new set of capabilities and opportunities for marketers to leverage radio in new and, importantly, trackable ways.

Q: iHeart has around a quarter billion listeners across platforms, including 30 million unique podcast listeners and 250,000+ monthly downloads. What’s your data strategy, and how do you connect this to your ad measurement?

We have an extensive listener base, along with really strong relationships with stations, hosts, podcasters and streaming services. This all comes together in a robust data infrastructure. We use audience insights to understand our listeners and tailor their experiences. Having a permission-based, privacy-compliant view into how listeners use our platforms helps us deliver the right experiences at the right time. 

We share these insights with our advertisers and partners so they can understand the opportunities for precise targeting. Meanwhile, our user-level exposure logs help us understand performance, which we can feed into analytics to optimize and get better over time.

Q: iHeartMedia has audio at its heart. How are you working with brands and agencies to leverage the power of your diverse media inventory and to measure campaign results?

iHeartMedia believes in giving listeners access to diverse audio content and experiences across platforms, whether through a car radio, a smart speaker, or captivating live experiences.

We work closely with brands and agencies to understand their objectives and create data-driven plans to achieve their KPIs, while delivering content that resonates with our listeners. We also offer measurement solutions and data assets to showcase performance, and partner with providers to help our advertisers and agencies achieve the learnings that they need to optimize campaigns.

Q: How has the deprecation of third-party cookies impacted iHeartMedia’s ad effectiveness measurement?

Collectively, the industry recognizes that there's a different future. I believe this has opened the door to finding new measurement pathways. At iHeartMedia, we’ve gotten more innovative with our listener relationships, and the insights that we gain from them. We also work with our partner vendors, advertisers, and agencies to deliver the performance analytics and measurement required. Through this process, we've debunked beliefs in a perfect data set (online tracking with cookies) was never perfect to begin with.

Q: Do household-level identifiers like IP addresses factor into your strategy?

iHeartMedia is working quite a bit with IP addresses. There are a lot of great data sets out there that help connect the dots so that we can profile homes and increase the probability of getting to a certain user or device. Many of our partners are also using IP addresses, allowing us to stitch insights together in an intelligent way. This is a world we're all actively embracing.

Q: The industry seeks a cross-platform measurement approach. How do you see the value of an objective, single-source, consented methodology for this?

iHeartMedia is a multi-channel offering, so cross-platform analysis is crucial for evaluating the overall performance of campaigns. It allows us to understand how different platforms work together in totality, but it’s also the only way that we can continue to optimize campaigns. That’s where we can get better as an industry. We need a holistic view of the impact, and a single-source, consented approach is key to achieving this. DISQO has been a big part of bringing those insights front and center.

Q: How has your work with DISQO gone so far?

DISQO’s team is a group of smart people who understand the need to be nimble and create new solutions. It's not about one specific approach, but rather determining how to tackle challenges now and in the future.  Compellingly, DISQO offers a strong audience panel with both attitudinal and behavioral methodologies for understanding campaign effectiveness. This unique, full-funnel approach brings together pieces of the consumer journey to provide a holistic understanding, which is so important.

Level up your ad measurement!

David said it best; it's essential to embrace innovation, iterate with new and existing data, and adopt a cross-platform approach to measurement to win in today’s landscape. Listen on-demand for more data-driven strategies with David’s co-panelists, Inspire Brands’ Rynan McManus and Mindshare’s Courtney Thompson.

→ Watch now: The Future of Ad Effectiveness in a Post-Cookie World

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