Verizon Wireless is going where no national advertiser has gone before: to HD Radio side channels. Since April and continuing into next year, the frequent radio advertiser is sponsoring a branded channel on the HD2 channels of 21 Clear Channel radio stations.
Called Verizon New Music, the channel is also streamed on the Internet.
Targeting 18 to 34 year olds, Verizon New Music airs music from up-and-coming artists, along with artist interviews. The only advertising that runs on the channel is 40 seconds per hour, exclusive to Verizon Wireless, split into two, 20-second spots.
HD Radio is hardly a barn-burner. While most of the nation’s major radio stations have made the digital transition and offer side channels, consumer acceptance has been slow to catch on, with less than 1 million receivers sold. That’s made it a tough sell for radio stations that would like nothing more than to monetize their investment.
“This is about a first mover advantage,” said Bob McCurdy, regional president for Clear Channel Radio Sales, a division of Katz Media, which worked with Zenith and Verizon Wireless to develop the long-running campaign. “The bet is that HD Radio is going to grow and ownership in the early stages is especially important. We recognize it doesn’t have the reach of the terrestrial brands.”
To drive listeners to the channel, Verizon New Music is promoted 18 times weekly to the 30 million listeners that tune-in to some of Clear Channel’s biggest radio brands, including WHTZ-FM in New York, KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, WKSC-FM in Chicago, and WIHT-FM in Washington, D.C.