iHeartMedia has announced the first output from SoundBoard, an in-house creative agency for premium marketing integrations that was launched in February. The sponsor is Coca-Cola, which is in a co-branded podcast called First Taste Fridays. The show is a music discovery and chat program with host Maxwell, guest musicians, and a gaggle of Millennials talking about newly released songs.
iHeart is calling integrations like First Taste Fridays “branded audio content.” The branding extends from the visual appearance of the podcast in browsers and phones to deeply native advertising within the program. Even in the fill title, which Maxwell announces as “First Taste Fridays with Coca-Cola.”
In the October 22 episode (oddly dated on a Thursday), Maxwell and the teens group-interview recording artist Jason Derulo about his visit to World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. (Listen below.) Derulo evangelizes the product, of course, as he describes the jaunt. The segment is bundled into the conversation skillfully, in what is a tightly-edited, fast-moving, 20-minute episode. Whether that kind of native staging is more or less natural than the typical, “This podcast is sponsored by…” is up to the listener. But without question the branded marketing is immersive.
iHeartMedia CMO Gayle Troberman emphasized the double-duty advantage of using a podcast as the starting point for this sort of branded integration: “Typically digital branded content has delivered great results against brand perceptions/affinities and purchase intent, but it’s to a limited number of consumers who experience the full show. With radio and podcasts we can now deliver the same depth of connection and movement on brand perceptions and PI to the consumers who listen to the full podcast, but we can also scale that impact by taking the best most compelling moments and putting them on air to reach our 245 million monthly radio listeners.”
We noticed that sign-in with a registered account was necessary to hear First Taste Fridays on iHeartRadio. By forcing users through that gate, zip-age-gender (ZAG) registration data can feed back into measurement of how the campaign delivers against targeting goals.