iHeart Media: ‘Share of Ear’ is a Greenfield

We’re in Austin for Localogy’s Place Conference, covering some sessions and tidbits as available. Stay tuned for more session coverage today and retrospectively over the coming weeks. See all session coverage aggregated here

Among the various media bombarding us, there’s still headroom for audio content. That’s partly based on humans’ ability to parse and absorb sound (as opposed to visual overstimulation). And it’s partly a matter of supply & demand according to iHeart Media’s Eric Hadley.

“Our ‘share of eyes’ have been taken over, but ‘share of ear’ has not been taken over yet,” he said this morning at Localogy’s Place Conference.

That headroom exists even as audio content like podcasts are exploding in popularity. Podcast listeners consume seven episodes per week on average, he reports, and most listen to those episodes all the way through… including ads

“There are few ad-supported businesses who can say that,” he said from the stage.

This opportunity grows as audio content “inventory” itself grows. That will happen as a function of the hardware conditioning that’s happening with wireless earbuds like Airpods. They’re becoming an all-day persistent audio channel, which expands the total addressable market for audio content.

As for distribution and monetization, iHeart is working on several ways to gain more value from things like post-audio engagement. This includes leaning into naturally-complimentary channels. For example, there’s an interplay of upper-funnel radio/podcasts and lower-funnel user behavior like search.

Along those lines, one user behavior iHeart has observed is listeners will Google a product or topic that they heard about on a podcast or radio broadcast. Sometimes, that’s a dead-end for the user, so iHeart has begun to invest in SEO for keywords endemic to its recent broadcasts. That way, when a listener does that search, there’s a greater chance the right result will emerge.

“There’s a natural complement between certain media like radio and search,” he said. “We’re working on bringing them together in more valuable ways.”

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