In 1970 — a time when there were only three major TV networks and zero streaming services — radio reached 93 percent of America. Today? Still 93 percent.

Listening habits have evolved drastically, of course, but audio’s influence on today’s mobile consumers remains — and iHeartMedia believes that the trend of the future just might be combining the power and personalization of mobile with the scale of broadcast radio.

As part of our CES preview series in partnership with Kinetic, Gayle Troberman talked to GeoMarketing about 2016’s hottest tech and media trends — and what that portends for the new year.

Let’s start by looking at the ecosystem today before jumping into CES predictions. Broadly, how do you view the state of location marketing — especially as it relates to the rise of mobile — and how does iHeartMedia fit in?

Well, I think location has always been an incredibly important part of trying to zero in on reaching consumers, obviously, in the right time and at the right place.

With the advent of digital media, we’ve seen our clients starting to learn a lot more about the power of the moment and the ability to address the right creative to the right moment.

Part of what [iHeartMedia] is doing today relates to bringing the power of digital to the scale of broadcast. I think clients are starting to really think harder about how to make that work in an adaptive, more dynamic advertising climate, and the rise of [mobile and location] has been a big part of that.

But in terms of [targeting], I don’t think we’ve yet seen the creative necessarily catch up with the data and the insights. I think one of the things we’re starting to see a lot more of is clients on the creative side really beginning to understand how to adapt their messaging and their creative to when, where, and to whom it’s going to be available.

How are you addressing that challenge at iHeartMedia? How are you working to bring that power of mobile and customization to the broadcast landscape?

Well, one of the big investments we’ve made over the past year is launching what we call Soundpoint, which is, essentially, our programmatic platform or broadcast radio. We’re taking all those tools that clients have had in digital — the ability to mine different audiences, map different data sources together — to say, “I want to find DIYers,” or “I want to find moms with kids under eight,” or whichever specific target you have.

Basically, here’s what we’ve done: For example, if you’re a Z100 listener, about one-third of our Z100 listeners to broadcast radio also listen to Z100 in the iHeartRadio app. So now we know who those listeners are, and we can start mining and projecting that data. We marry that data with other sources — we have a partnership with a company called Unified Social, so we can [also] scrape a lot of data from the social graph. Then we can hone into these sort of specific enhanced smart, informed audience segments. We can sell those segments to our clients, not just in digital, but at the scale of broadcast radio, which is reaching 269 million listeners a month.

It’s a huge leap forward, I think, for the ability to make broadcast radio smarter and more informed. We offer two things: One is the ability to buy those smart, informed audience segments at broadcast scale, and then the second thing we do is to offer dynamic creative capabilities. If it’s a cold day, or if it’s raining in LA and it’s snowing in New York, we can address that. Pollen counts, how did the stock market do today — all of those things might impact which message a client might want to deliver. We are truly local, but yet still a national platform.

The ability to just know which moment you’re serving your ad into and what the context is, that impacts the ability for your message to (a) get heard and (b) to resonate and work.

I think that the more location-based marketing becomes a true focus for clients, because of digital investments, the more they’ll be able to reap the benefit of bringing that thinking and that creative and that strategy over to things like broadcast radio.

Now let’s talk CES: What technologies and projections excited you last year? What came to fruition that impacted the way you or your clients do business?

We’ve definitely seen the trends we’ve predicted last year continuing, and the data seems be bearing that out. When we went to CES last year, we declared it “the year of sound.”

Last year, headphones were the best-selling electronics item. I always say to marketers, “if you believe headphones are the best-selling electronics item, you really should think about having a sound strategy.” If you talk to a millennial, they used to leave the house and go, “cellphone, wallet, keys,” right? Now it’s, “cellphone, wallet, keys, headphones.”

Therefore, all of the platforms for listening seem to be growing. Broadcast radio with millennials is up nine percent year over year, streaming is up 21 percent year over year, concert and festival attendance is up. Podcasts are up 33 percent, and concerts are up 34 percent.

I think looking at the data now, we’re seeing that, yeah, everything audio really does seem to be growing. We’re definitely hearing more and more interest from advertisers in audio advertising — both podcast and radio ads. If I had to predict, one of the things we’re really passionate about this year is we think the jingle is coming back. Seriously! But I think we’re seeing a lot of brands wanting to experiment with their own sound, and to play around with music and storytelling and music.

Any other predictions for 2017? And what do you think is going to be big at CES this year?

I think in-car is definitely a trend we’ve been seeing more and more — [connected] technology in the car. Also, what we’ve seen is that radio continues to dominate in car, whether people are listening to it via apps or via old school AM/FM. We’re definitely seeing growth.

I think also believe live media is going to continue to grow and has been having a resurgence. Radio is really about a live, in-the-moment, real-time conversation with real people, in a way. It’s not produced. It’s messy, it’s raw, it’s authentic. It’s all those words that seem to be on trend right now. Part of the reason for that trend, the way I describe it, is I think as we curate a lot of our own content in our own kind of private bubble today, right? It used to be like I’d come into work and I’d say, “Oh my God, did you see Stranger Things last night? Oh my God, I can’t believe that happened,” right?

Now if I say, “Oh my God, I watched Stranger Things last night,” somebody’s going to go, “Shhh! I haven’t started it yet.” Or “I watched it over the holidays,” or “I’m only on Episode 2.” In the context of a technology conversation, I think it’s kind of interesting that what used to be shared culture when we were forced to consume content simultaneously, is becoming sort of a private and isolated culture. I think one of the reasons we’re seeing a resurgence in listening to live radio, watching live television, and going to live sports and concert events is because we’re social beings, and as consumers we’re craving shared live, cultural experiences.

Audio and concerts are a great way to actually get those. I think that’s why we’re seeing that kind of growth, and that’s one of the trends I think we’ll see continue. I’m not sure it’s the one people will be talking about as they walk the CES show floor, but I think it’s definitely an undercurrent.

On the media side, the thing I keep hearing is, I think we’re entering what I would call the “post-digital era.” As a marketer I grew up in the digital era. The digital era was fascinating. Every day there were new and different places to figure out how to put your message. We’ve learned to pin, post, tweet, snap, vine, periscope, right?


It was exciting, it was hard, and it was confusing. As a result of all of these sort of new digital platforms, we’ve been doing more and more — more kinds of messages in more places, trying to reach consumers. When I sit with CMOs and have these conversations, what I’m hearing a lot is that we got more data, we got more costs, we got more complexity. I’m hearing a lot of marketers retrench a little bit and start talking again about the power of reach and frequency and scale, and how that fits into a fragmented world — so I think we’re going to explore [that concept] and start seeing a lot more payoff there.