iHeartMedia Partners With WPP to Launch Project Listen, a New Audio Advertiser Initiative

iHeartMedia has unveiled a strategic partnership to improve audience engagement — and boost audio advertising spends.

According to the major American broadcaster, consumer listening has reached an all-time high.

On average, consumers listen to 17 hours of audio content a week.  Millennials and younger generations listen the most.  iHeartMedia attributed the strong increase to the growth in digital streaming, podcasts, smart speakers, and Apple’s AirPods.

To take advantage of the growth in audio consumption, iHeartMedia has partnered with WPP, a self-described “creative transformation company.”  Both companies will work together on an initiative dubbed Project Listen.

The initiative aims to help brands better engage with consumers and “win” across multiple audio platforms, including broadcast radio, digital streaming, podcasts, smart speakers, and live events.

First unveiled at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity on Monday, the new partnership comprises three elements.

First, both companies have launched the Creative Audio Studio at WPP’s GroupM headquarters at 3 World Trade Center in New York.  Clients and creatives from across the transformation company will experiment with modern audio marketing programs at the studio.  They’ll also work with creative producers in a series of pilots.

Second, both companies will collaborate on media planning offers.  iHeartMedia will integrate its Smart Audio Insights and audience tools with GroupM’s data to uncover “new insights” and support “novel measurement” approaches.  Both companies will share these insights and approaches in quarterly intelligence reports for clients.  iHeartMedia and WPP will also roll out an audio certification program for planners at GroupM’s agencies in 2019.

Finally, an 18-episode Project Listen monthly podcast launched at Cannes will run until 2020.  The podcast will include lessons from client pilots and research.  Both companies said this will help “inspire” more advertisers to embrace new audio capabilities.

Speaking about the initiative, Bob Pittman, iHeartMedia Chairman and CEO, explained,

Project Listen is about tapping into the scale of audio and moving from the traditionally transactional radio business to the future of audio advertising where insights and ideas lead the way to growth for brands.

Simply put, audio is the biggest greenfield for growth in media today, and we could not be more excited to partner with the talented teams across WPP to develop the tools and skillsets needed to unlock that growth.”


Featured image by iHeartMedia.