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Music powerhouse Clear Channel has consummated its digital engagement, wedding its roster of ad-supported consumer services under a new name, iHeartMedia. The re-branding reflects the 21st century achievements of a company named for 20th century technology, explained company Chairman and CEO Robert Pittman, noting “when I look at iHeart and digital, it’s the core of what we have, which are franchises people love.”

Those franchises include 859 radio stations in over 150 markets – with more than 245 million listeners a month, the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in America; iHeartMedia Digital, logging 90 million-plus digital monthly uniques; Premiere Networks, which syndicates 90 radio programs and services to more than 5,500 radio affiliates; the Total Traffic and Weather Network, reaching almost all U.S. commuters; and a library of some 20,000 live music events.

All of which adds up to “massive consumer engagement” that the company is seeking to leverage as “a one-of-a-kind multi-platform media company with unparalleled reach and impact,” the company stated in making the announcement.

“We have massive consumer reach and influence across our platforms because we know how to program the live content people want to hear, see and share right now,” said Pittman, previously the Chairman and CEO of Clear Channel.

The Clear Channel Outdoor billboard business and Katz Media Group ad-placement subsidiaries will continue to operate under their existing names, folder under the iHeartMedia umbrella. The new company derives its new name from the iHeartRadio franchise, which since its launch three years ago has grown to become the dominant national consumer brand among the company’s assets, with nearly 70 percent consumer brand awareness. The company characterizes iHeartRadio’s expansion as “record-breaking digital growth,” hitting 50 million registered users “ faster than Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.”

The company’s 859 radio stations have led the way for the entire media business, becoming even more relevant in the lives of their listeners by expanding how they connect with listeners live and in-the-moment in mobile and across its network of social platforms.

The new iHeartMedia brand reflects “both the success and the cultural impact” of the iHeartRadio brand, the company said in making the announcement. “iHeartMedia was created by the strongest broadcast radio stations in the country, and we will continue to build this company the same way – on the country’s strongest radio stations,” Pittman said. “Our digital platform extends the reach and impact for our wildly popular on-air personalities – and it’s a platform that only iHeartMedia provides.”

More than 15.4 billion social impressions have been racked-up by iHeartRadio’s live events, including the iHeartRadio Music Festival, the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Concert Tour, the iHeartRadio Ultimate Pool Party and the iHeartRadio Music Awards, which garnered more than 65 million votes via text messaging and led the week in the Nielsen social TV ratings.

“In a world where 2x ROI is judged as successful, Nielsen has shown that radio delivers 6x ROI on average,” said Pittman, who became a radio announcer at the age of 15 in his native Mississippi and by 23 was programming NBC’s flagship station, New York’s WNBC. He went on to become the founding chief of MTV, which under his leadership became the first profitable cable network in the U.S. As someone who went on to serve as CEO of firms as diverse as AOL, Six Flags theme parks and Time Warner before assuming that title chairman at Clear Channel in 2010, Pittman has become known as a “jack of all media.”

His current company’s sweet spot lies in the fact that it combines “the power and predictably of mass reach with the immediacy and relevance of live programming.” It’s major asset, he says, is “the fact that we have an open mind. We’re not wedded to anything except making the consumer happy.” The opportunity for the new iHeartMedia to use its various brands across radio, outdoor, digital, social and live events will “make it easier for advertisers to deliver the most relevant, real-time messages across all our platforms at scale, amplified by social media and mobile, to get a superior ROI to other media.”

Pittman plans to take that to the bank, and hopes consumers will take it to heart.

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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