WPP and iHeartMedia Launch ‘Project Listen’

WPP and iHeartMedia Launch ‘Project Listen’

Partnership Will Drive Innovation and Learning in Creative and Media Strategies Across All Audio Platforms

iHeartMedia, America’s leading audio company, and WPP, the creative transformation company, announced the launch of Project Listen to develop next-generation insights, planning and creative capabilities in audio.

“People are wired for sound – it grabs our attention, sets our mood, and triggers our memories and imagination. It transports us from a favorite artist’s soundstage, to a podcast courtroom or even another galaxy. It’s quite literally a soundtrack for our lives”

The two companies will help brands better engage with consumers and win across all audio platforms: broadcast radio, digital streaming, podcasts, smart speakers and live events.

Consumer listening is at an all-time high, according to new iHeartMedia research. The study shows consumers say they are listening to audio content for an average of 17 hours a week, with millennials and younger generations listening the most. This ramp up in listening is the direct result of the rapid growth of digital streaming, podcasts, smart speakers and airpods, on top of the massive and consistent scale of broadcast radio.

The new partnership comprises:

  1. Creative Audio Studio – Audio will be pushed higher on the agendas of creatives and media strategists with the launch of a new studio at GroupM’s headquarters at 3 World Trade Center in New York. Clients and creatives from across WPP will experiment with modern audio marketing programs, working with creative producers in a series of pilots.
  2. Empowering Planning – iHeartMedia’s Smart Audio Insights and audience tools will be integrated with GroupM’s proprietary data and insights tools to uncover new insights and support novel measurement approaches, all of which will be shared in quarterly intelligence reports for clients and the market. A new audio certification program for planners at GroupM’s agencies will roll out later in 2019.
  3. Raising Audio IQ – A new Project Listen monthly podcast is launching in Cannes with plans for 18 episodes through 2020. Lessons from the client pilots and research will be shared to help inspire more advertisers to embrace audio’s new capabilities.

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Project Listen is intended to raise the bar in audio creativity and media strategy through shared learning about what works in the evolving audio landscape. The partners will help marketers to mine audio data for insights and to deploy them across a cohesive planning framework, from creative strategy to media planning and implementation.

“At iHeartMedia, we understand the unparalleled power of audio and its ability to engage and make brands part of the daily conversation, with consumers of all ages, at a massive scale,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc. “Project Listen is about tapping into the scale of audio and moving from the traditionally transactional radio business to the future of audio advertising where insights and ideas lead the way to growth for brands. Simply put, audio is the biggest greenfield for growth in media today, and we could not be more excited to partner with the talented teams across WPP to develop the tools and skillsets needed to unlock that growth.”

“Consumers are listening more than ever, and we already know the power of music, voice and sound to create engaging and emotional human connections,” said Mark Read, CEO of WPP. “As consumer behaviour evolves, from the media they enjoy to how they relate to brands and make purchase decisions, it’s essential to have a modern approach to creative and strategy for all media, including audio.”

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“People are wired for sound – it grabs our attention, sets our mood, and triggers our memories and imagination. It transports us from a favorite artist’s soundstage, to a podcast courtroom or even another galaxy. It’s quite literally a soundtrack for our lives,” said Brad Hiranaga, NA Chief Brand Officer, General Mills. “Because audio is an incredible driver of culture and yet is so personal, it’s a profound way to tell a brand story that connects with people authentically in the right moments of their day. That connection is a great match to our mission for our brands to create experiences for people and provide value in their lives.”

“Marketers spend a lot of time perfecting the way their brand looks, but today there is an equal need to focus on how they sound,” said Leslie Sims, Chief Creative Officer for Ogilvy USA. “With the growth in listening, sonic branding is becoming an even more vital part of the creative process. Project Listen will challenge us to experiment even more as we work with clients to explore new sonic solutions.”

“At GroupM, our single-minded focus is on helping clients to best utilize the media that can help deliver growth for their businesses,” said Tim Castree, CEO, GroupM North America. “Like every other medium, audio is quickly evolving. This requires work with our clients and our partners to test and learn how to leverage the scale and reach of audio, and the creative and innovation potential of new platforms, which is what we’ll do with Project Listen.”

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Project Listen was announced today at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity during a special live podcast at the WPP Beach. The podcast featured Brad Hiranaga, Chief Brand Officer, General Mills; Bob Pittman; Tim Castree; Leslie Simms, Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy US; Ryan Seacrest, host of On Air with Ryan Seacrest, Live With Kelly and Ryan and American Idol; and host Will Pearson from the hit podcast, Part Time Genius.

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