iHeartMedia Invests in Unified for Custom Data Staff and Products

Unified Will Hire a Dedicated Team to Work with Music Media Partner

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IHeartMedia could have chosen to work with any number of well-known data management and analytics platforms, but the broadcast and digital radio firm decided to form a strategic partnership and invest in a social media data-focused startup instead. The music media and data powerhouse formerly known as Clear Channel aims to work closely with Unified to develop custom analytics and ad offerings to advertisers.

"We're going to lean into Unified and have them help us bring our data to light," said Brian Kaminsky, president of programmatic and data operations for iHeartMedia. Part of that leaning in will involve a new set of staffers to be hired specifically to work with iHeart. The crew of data scientists, engineers, UX/UI designers and project managers will work in Unified's New York City office, according to Mr. Kaminsky.

The company declined to reveal how much money it has invested in Unified.

"Data that reflects musical tastes, as well as what music consumers are listening to around cultural tentpole events, impacts how and when brands target consumers," said Steve Katelman, exec VP-global strategic partnerships at Omnicom Media Group, an iHeart partner. "And now with partnerships like this, the measurability and targeting can really come to life."

Rather than require iHeart to use pre-fab technology as would have been the case with other potential partners, Unified will build products and tools to help iHeart evaluate music listening behavior data enhanced with third party information such as purchase patterns and social data to create audience segments, devise media plans for clients, and build tools for the media company's salespeople. This isn't about segmenting for digital ad targeting, stressed Mr. Kaminsky, who said the company works with Lotame to build custom ad targeting categories for the iHeart.com radio site.

The music media firm delivered its first batch of data for analysis to Unified around six weeks ago, and the partners have begun to foster ideas and run projects in beta. "I'm looking at the audience of millennial moms," said Mr. Kaminsky, describing a fresh project concept.

He plans to pitch an client on the idea to look at the artists young moms listen to and combine that with lifestyle data and other information indicating entertainment interests to uncover insights such as which musical interests align with buying fresh groceries as opposed to frozen pizza.

"This is just a way of bringing it to a deeper level the way a digital marketer would," he said.

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