Aug 03, 2012 at 04:06 PM
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Events Add Key Differentiator To Clear Channel's Digital Radio Entry

Clear Channel's entry in the fiercely competitive digital radio platform wars is growing faster than you might expect. iHeartRadio recently registered 10 million users in eight months of service, a feat company executives say is "faster than any other internet service." While well-known competitors like Pandora, SiriusXM and Spotify are focused almost exclusively on their digital efforts, Clear Channel, which has deep roots in the live music business from its days owning Live Nation, is using events like the iHeartRadio Music Festival to promote its digital offering to consumers, drive new revenue and provide value to the company's key partners.

This September, the second annual iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas is being sponsored by national brands like Amazon Kindle Fire, Dish, Macy’s, MGM Resorts International, NBC’s The Voice, and State Farm.

"Spons-owning" the event allows Clear Channel to develop solutions to the specific liking of marketers and provides another asset to bundle into what it's calling a "constant marketing solution" across other consumer touchpoints the company owns such as OOH and digital.

Showcasing the division's capabilities, Clear Channel yesterday announced plans to team up with Dodge Dart on an 11-city tour being called the "The Road to Las Vegas" which will send 12 fans and their guests to the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Vegas. Promoted across iHeartRadio, the tour will feature Dodge "road-tripper" street-team bloggers and Clear Channel radio station on-air personalities at each stop, where every test-drive provides a chance to win a VIP trip to the iHeartRadio Music Festival.

"Our goal in working with Dodge on this unique campaign is to help make the 2013 Dodge Dart the automotive conversation of the summer," said Tim Castelli, President of Sales, Marketing and Partnerships for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. "This campaign showcases Clear Channel's strengths: our ability to execute creative, integrated and multiplatform campaigns that connect major brands with consumers and today's top artists."

The partnership strategy, which is being executed by a new integrated marketing team led by Castelli, is "helping gain real traction with our major national advertisers, a key objective of our strategy," Clear Channel CFO and EVP Tom Casey says.

While currently, the company isn't selling ads on iHeartRadio's custom digital channels, events give it the opportunity to talk to marketers and cross-sell integrated solutions to other parts of the business.

"The iHeartRadio Festival coming up in Las Vegas in September is another example where we leverage our assets to drive additional sponsorships and national advertisers to the media," Casey says.

The numbers don't lie. The company's Media and Entertainment operations division grew revenue 3% to $793 million in the second quarter of this year, thanks to growth in national, local advertising sales and digital revenues.