Horizon Inks $100 Million Deal With Clear Channel

Multiyear pact includes exclusive events, research, radio, out of home

Horizon Media has just inked a $100 million upfront deal—with a radio company?

Well, yes and no.

The media agency has just signed a multiyear, cross-platform pact with Clear Channel, best known for its 840 radio stations in 150 markets. One might wonder, in this era of intense competition from the likes or Pandora, Spotify and now Beats by Dre, if anybody needs to lock up radio GRPs ahead of time?

Well in this case, the deal is as much about Clear Channel’s artist relationships, its growing digital business and its ability to crank out research on specific markets, all of which enticed Horizon to make such a commitment. As part of the unique pact, Horizon gets first look at specific Clear Channel events, and will also develop special events for its clients tapping into the full range of talent Clear Channel has to offer. Think customized shows at Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio Theaters in New York and Los Angeles, as well as specific artist-led marketing programs.

A big part of the deal will be a psychographic targeting system developed between the two partners, which will meld Clear Channel’s consumer research with Horizon’s custom tools and client data.

Horizon president and CEO Bill Koenigsberg said that his agency agreed to the commitment without any specific client signoffs—at least none yet.

“Based on our volume as an agency in general, we feel comfortable we can meet this,” said Koenigsberg. “But this offers unique groundbreaking ownership positions for clients. These programs are not the kind of things that any brand can slap their name on. We feel they’re going to be innovative. We’re going to have clients clamoring.”

If clients are clamoring, it will be because of the rich array of offerings included in the deal, coupled with Clear Channel’s promise to help Horizon prove the agreement’s ROI. Per Koenigsberg, besides events, research and radio, the partnership includes a heavy dose of out of home, broadcast, mobile and digital. “We don’t think of them as a radio company anymore,” he added.

That’s of course the message that Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman has been pounding ever since he assumed the role. In other words, stop calling Clear Channel a radio company. “We do have this massive reach vehicle [in radio],” he said. “But the truth is, we have a limited supply of the most valuable and limited stuff. Think of a local radio event in Jackson, Mississippi, or an exclusive event with Justin Timberlake and Target."

“This kind of thing is not really done in radio and outdoor," Pittman added. "It’s done in TV and some in digital. And you can do this kind of deal with everybody. But this is probably a sign of things to come.”