In the iHeart of the 2020 Storm

Our interview with Rachel Herskovitz, VP of Content Partnerships at iHeartMedia

Tell us what you are currently doing for iHeartMedia

The goal of my department, Entertainment Enterprises, is to gain exposure of the iHeartRadio brand outside of our owned and operated platforms through various content partnerships. What that really means is, I sell the great content that I collaborate with our various teams to create.

Are you seeing an uptick in spend with advertisers and brands for Q4?

Brands are eager to advertise and get their message out in a COVID-relevant way. So yes, we certainly have seen a greater influx of briefs and brand interest, and most importantly — integration into video and podcasts versus a more standing reach/frequency radio plan. What is exciting about this (early) trend is that brands are looking to media companies like ours to partner on getting a relevant message out there.

Do you think there may be lasting effects as a result?

I think the headline is that YES, the way things were done before COVID will not be the way they are done after COVID. We’ve had to reinvent how we create our content (audio and video), and I do believe many of those elements will remain.

Are you seeing a demand for video grow among audiences and advertisers?

YES! Video, and quality at that, demand was on the increase before COVID-19, but with the lack of in-person events and sponsorship opportunities for brands, we are seeing an increase from both an audience to consume content, and from advertisers to meaningfully be a part of the content.

Based on your experience as a marketer at AMEX what are your thoughts on the future of contextual advertising?

Coming from AMEX, where unique, integrated experiences were at the forefront of what we did — I think this is the only way for a brand to be integrated in content. You must have a purpose in being there.

What channels are you finding the most success for your video?

It depends on the goals of the content and also what medium the content is created for. Since we push video out on so many platforms (TV, streamers, social) — I can say that we measure each a bit differently in terms of our goals. As for when brands buy into that content — we have found a lot of success streaming on YouTube and Facebook, as long as the content has a VOD window beyond live, live to continue the viewership.

Rachel is very active in sharing and mentoring others

Ok then how about as a publisher? Sure contextual may help advertisers and make customers less angry, but are you concerned that it may detract from what you are trying to do? Potentially having to compete for share-of-voice on your own content?

Contextual targeting is something that viewers are used to. And done well, not interrupting the content or the experience is exactly what brands and audiences want. Take any sports league — they have a halftime show brought to you by “XX” brand. No consumer is offended by that, and it is indeed contextual. So in my opinion it’s following the successful model of sports sponsorships (no one wants to miss a great play) and applying that to digital video.

You mentioned that advertisers want to be meaningfully a part of the content, how are you seeing them validate “meaningfulness” with contextuality?

Putting on my AMEX hat, it would have been tied to our business goal/KPI. Sometimes that was awareness or brand favorability or an alignment with content/influencers that laddered up to a bigger company initiative. More down funnel, there were times that we wanted to be in content to drive intent and even sign-ups. How we were integrated and how much we spent on said integration was also tied to the results we desired.

Being a parent and a professional is challenging for everyone, but now we have to be both at the same time. How are you making it work?

Rachel and her husband Zack

What videos do you like watching when you are enjoying yourself and not doing work?

Since I watch and create so much music content for work, and often find myself watching that type of content for “research” — when I am officially not working, I am either binge-watching dramas (most recent was Netflix’s “Dark”), educating myself with new documentaries (most recent was “The Social Dilemma”) — or totally spacing out and watching “selling sunset”. Clearly, Netflix has a lot of my COVID viewing habits captured!

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