How Powerful Insights Beat Shiny Tactics with Gayle Troberman, CMO of iHeartMedia

The way marketers can leverage audio content and consumer insights

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Many people assume that most of the content we consume is visual, but did you know that broadcast radio still reaches 9 out of 10 Americans? This is what the staying power of audio content looks like—and Gayle Troberman believes its popularity will keep growing because it’s easier than ever to keep our ears connected 24/7.

In today’s episode of The Speed of Culture, Matt Britton talks to Gayle Troberman, chief marketing officer at iHeartMedia, about the growth of audio content and the power of consumer insights along with how marketers can leverage both.

Before joining iHeartMedia, Gayle was the chief marketing and ideas officer at IPG Mediabrands and the chief creative officer at Microsoft for 16 years. Today, Gayle joins us to give her perspective on why the audio industry, podcasts and metaverse are hot topics that will continue to hold everyone’s interest.

Creative testing doesn’t tell you all the answers, but it prevents the disaster and, sometimes, it helps you find a spark of genius.

—Gayle Troberman, chief marketing officer, iHeartMedia

Learn more about the growth of audio content by checking out the key takeaways of this episode or the transcript below:

Stream the new episode above, listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or find it on Spotify.

Key Highlights:

  • Pump Up the Volume – Gayle believes that the audio industry will continue to grow due to its unscripted nature—and will only get more accessible with smart speakers, voice interfaces and wireless headphones keeping us connected 24/7.
  • The Rise of the Metaverse – We’re still in the early stages of understanding and building out the metaverse. But the potential is sky high, especially when it starts allowing people to organize various events, concerts, in addition to connecting fans and artists.
  • Linking the Meta and the Physical – The connection between our digital and physical worlds will continue to expand. Whether it’s being able to go to a physical event, experience it in a metaverse or digitally buy tokens that get you access to both—the possibilities are seemingly endless.

Transcript:

Gayle Troberman: Audio is growing crazy fast, right, on a huge base, which is the exciting part of it. Obviously, I’m a little biased, [chuckles] but broadcast radio is still reaching 9 out of 10 Americans because it’s live and it’s human and it’s unscripted and it’s not just a place to hear music. It’s a place to actually have a conversation and not be alone.

Matt Britton: To thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape, brands must move at an ever-increasing pace. I’m Matt Britton, founder and CEO of Suzy. Join me and key industry leaders as we dive deep into the shifting consumer trends within their industry, why it matters now and how you can keep up. Welcome to The Speed of Culture.

Matt: Up today, we’re going to be speaking with the chief marketing officer of iHeartMedia, a dear friend of mine, Gayle Troberman. Gayle, thanks so much for joining today.

Gayle: It’s great to be here, Matt.

Matt: It’s great to be here at the shiny iHeartMedia podcast studio. If you’ve never been to iHeart’s office, it’s just really just an incredible site in terms of how they built this out and it really is a great reflection of the iHeart brand. We’re going to quickly start by getting to know a little bit about you, Gayle. You were chief creative officer at Microsoft from 1996 to 2012, where we worked closely together. Then you moved on to become chief marketing ideas officer at IPG media brands, and then finally, for the last seven years, you’ve been here at iHeartMedia as chief marketing officer. Tell us a little bit about your career journey and the ups and downs through that.

Gayle: Sure. I always answer this question with some people I think particularly younger generations today are all about planning. You have career plans. You have these visions. You’re going to do this to get there to do this. I’ve always been of the stumble well, follow great people, and what interests you and bizarrely, that’s how I landed in advertising because I loved all of the TV shows about it. I thought it was fascinating. Bewitched to Mad Men back in the day, 30 Something and looks like a cool creative field. I had to check a box on college apps.

I was like, “Oh, yes, advertising. That sounds fun.” That landed me in that major. Started in the ad business in New York. Then we did a pitch. Wasn’t my finest work, [chuckles] but I guess we were smart enough to not win the Microsoft business way back when in the PR days. I met Mitch Matthews and a couple of other people from Microsoft through that. Then in the early Microsoft years, they stayed in touch and they convinced me to take a big leap, which was, I had barely been on the internet and I was moving to Seattle where I’d been once to work on the internet and figure out initial marketing campaigns for all the internet startups at Microsoft, which was crazy fun.

Matt: I’m sure. I was with you through some of those trials and tribulations. I read recently that Microsoft is one of the only top 20 companies most valued in the world that still was one of the top 20 today from-

Gayle: Fascinating.

Matt: -a few decades ago. Given what you’ve experienced at Microsoft, what about that organization has given them such staying power?

Gayle: The Microsoft culture, particularly, I’ve obviously been gone for a little bit of time, but it was just such an amazing culture of making big, bold bets, resource them, and measuring them, and being willing to walk away from the ones that aren’t working or don’t pay off. So much of I think in this moment of the great resignation and people changing jobs, one of the big secret sauces at Microsoft, and I’m sure you experienced the good and bad of this was, the company hired crazy, smart, passionate people who were driven at all costs. It wasn’t an easy culture by any means. It could be brutal on any given day because everyone was so passionate and really wanted to win.

Matt: Especially during the Ballmer era, right?

Gayle: Yes.

Matt: Because things have changed from what I hear.

Gayle: Yes, in the early Bill era. It was a culture where you could passionately fight for what you believe and the people who got to decide decided and you made the bet, and you all locked arms and played it through and you measured aggressively and learned, but it was a culture of hiring really great people and empowering them. I think those are core principles. I know I worked with Satya very closely for a minute in one of my eras there. He very much is of that Microsoft culture. Maybe a little probably kinder and gentler than perhaps it was back in the day, but it’s still about crazy, smart, passionate people, resource them, empower them and then hold them accountable.

Matt: Have clear and distinct goals. I think Microsoft’s been so laser-focused on their core business lines. When they veered off whether it’s like with the Zune, remember that, or so many products that just didn’t. Windows phones, they didn’t really hit. They weren’t afraid to shut it down and keep moving and focus on what was working.

Gayle: Even as much money as it was invested in some of those. They’re really hard business decisions. It’s always hard for all of us sometimes to walk away.

Matt: Then you moved over to IPG and frankly, I don’t really remember your time at IPG. How long were you there for? What was it like? Why was it brief? What was it like being on the agency side of things? Because that’s-

Gayle: Well, I think it was the best-worst job offer ever. It was Matt Siler, who I love, called me and we had just switched agencies, so we had basically just fired them and hired a publicist and I had just resigned. I’d just left Microsoft. It was a regime change. It was time.

Matt: Sure.

Gayle: I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. Matt called me and he’s like, “Hey, we’ve got this media pitch.” He’s like, “You just let us go.” He’s like, “We really aren’t set up well for this.” He’s like, “We’re probably five of five in the race right now.” He’s like, “What if you came and consulted and ran this giant global media pitch for us and did everything you would have bought?” He’s like, “I’ll get out of your way, we’ll give you the resources, come reimagine it.”

Matt: How’d that work out?

Gayle: I was like, “That’s kind of crazy.” There’s a great story with it. My next-door neighbor at the time was Ben Gibberd from Death Cab-

Matt: Of course.

Gayle: -for Cutie-

Matt: Huge fan.

Gayle: -and he had just had a big breakup with Zooey-

Matt: Zooey.

Gayle: -Deschanel.

Matt: Yes.

Gayle: We were both suddenly home all day and he was playing three sad notes on the piano [chuckles] that would ooze into our loft.

Matt: [laughs]

Gayle: I was like, “I gotta get out of here.” I was like, “All right, I’ll come consult.” It was really fun being on the other side of a pitch. It was an amazing learning because it looks so easy when you’re judging-

Matt: Of course.

Gayle: -versus what it takes to really restructure and reimagine integrated marketing around the globe, across multiple agencies in an ecosystem. We did some really good work. IPG won a chunk of that business, not all of it. Then we turned it into a real job, but it wasn’t quite a clear job. I think after a while, I had shaken things up a little bit and realized it’s easy to judge the agency world.

Matt: Right.

Gayle: It’s very hard to live it.

Matt: I think all clients who worked at an agency before they sit in pitches-

Gayle: [chuckles] So true.

Matt: -so they know how much work goes into it. What’s interesting in running an agency for so many years is often you win business, not when pitching the idea that’s really best for the client, but the idea that’s best for the pitch. We called it pitch candy. It’s like, “Yes, this idea actually will move their business, but is the end buyer really motivated by long-term business success, or do they just want to get in one of the trade publications? Do they just want to get a promotion? Is there a right or wrong?”

Gayle: It’s so true.

Matt: It’s a lot of the way the world works. Now you have some people or companies that really do believe in the business, but other people, it’s like, “Am I really passionate about toothpaste or actually passionate about being able to get a promotion so I can get a bigger house for my family?” When you weigh those two things, those motivations, sometimes it impacts what you pitch.

Gayle: I talk about this a lot in the audio landscape today because radio is obviously huge, been around for a while. Podcasting is relatively new and now there’s social audio. We talk about getting into metaverse ideas and things like that. We’ve seen it through the years growing up in early digital, there’s always new shiny stuff.

Matt: Of course.

Gayle: I don’t even know that it’s as conscious for decision-makers in the ecosystem, but our human bias comes into play all the time. It’s why products like Suzy are important to gut check our biases more frequently and faster because as humans, we think the coolest idea, it may not even be as malicious as, “No I want to get into the press.” Honestly, I think a lot of times, it’s very hard as decision-makers, marketers, whether you’re client-side or agency or media company, you want to do the cool stuff. You go into marketing, not to crunch numbers. Most people go into marketing because it’s cool and sexy and creative. Then you want to do the next thing.

Yes, they matter, but like you said, sometimes it’s the tried and true, the most efficient. We have so many clients who rely on broadcast radio because of its scale and efficiency and it just drives growth.

Matt: You can offer less.

Gayle: Predictably, yes.

Matt: There’s no benchmarking if you’re doing something new every single time. The agency ecosystem, in a lot of ways, people who are-

Gayle: It’s so true.

Matt: -on the brand side are coded to do those new things to be innovative. When the reality is if you do a campaign, what you should really do is do the campaign again with the learnings that you have from the first time and keep getting better and better, whatever-

Gayle: Exactly.

Matt: -that thing is, and you’ll own that thing. Where a lot of times people will do, “Oh, I’m going to do a podcast. That didn’t work. Let’s move on to the metaverse. Let’s move on to this.”

Gayle: It’s so true.

Matt: I think obviously, we live in a world of instant gratification and big companies have to report every quarter and that’s just the world we live in and that’s the balancing act. Speaking of a balancing act in the New World, now you are here at iHeartMedia, which has been a company that, first of all, I’ve always been fascinated with just because when starting Mr. Youth, MTV was the company and Bob Pittman started MTV. I always followed his career so much through the years and then once he came here and created this new conglomerate, iHeart, I really had my eye on and then you joined and I had even a greater interest in the company. Tell us a little bit about your journey here at iHeart.

Gayle: It was another one of those great job offers that wasn’t a job offer. I love a good challenge, and I had met Bob when I was at IPG. He called me one day and, again, I was between things. I was going to take the summer off, chill on the island and the Northwest. Figure out my life. Someday I’ll get to that. He called me and he goes, “Hey, I just took over here as CEO,” at what was then Clear Channel. He said, “I have this crazy idea, I want you to float it by you. I’d love to pick your brain.” He’s like, “I’m thinking we need to reimagine the company and the brand and I’m thinking maybe we should change the name of the company and really rebrand from Clear Channel to iHeartMedia.”

He’s like, “We’ve got the iHeartRadio app, and the iHeartRadio brand, and it’s really catching.” He walked me through his initial thinking and he’s like, “I’ll call you at the same time tomorrow.” He’s like, “Give me a day of your brain and see what you think about it.” Then I called him, did some work. The next day, I talked to him and it’s what I love about iHeart and Microsoft had become very big and deliberate and with a lot at stake globally and we’d become slower. Bob, in one day he’s like, “Yes, I thought about that. We debated it.” He’s like “Think I’m going to do it.” He’s like, “Will you come figure this out for me?” He’s like, “I’m going to get everyone, all of my leadership team in a room on Monday.” This was a Friday. He’s like, “We’re going to go through a list of every decision, every place our brand appears, and what we do. Keep it, change it, get rid of it.”

Matt: Wow.

Gayle: We went through a spreadsheet of thousands and thousands of line items as a leadership team. Make every decision, ballpark costs. What is it? The sign on top of the building, the billboard here, the elevators in these offices, every single place the brand appeared and we made a decision, boom and we rebranded the company in something like I think six weeks.

Matt: That’s how brands are made.

Gayle: It was super fun.

Matt: Every detail matters. They talk about how people answered the phone, or what the business cards and every little touch point becomes the brand. Sometimes you have to get in the weeds.

Gayle: Yes, exactly.

Matt: Knowing you, I know that you like being strategic, but you also like getting your hands dirty.

Gayle: Yes, I like a line job because that’s where you learn.

Matt: Of course.

Gayle: You don’t want to do it every day, but you got to get in particularly, I think when things are new.

Matt: 100%.

Gayle: You got to get in the weeds. One of the questions you had asked me was one of those big learning moments. When I first took over advertising for the whole company at Microsoft, it blew people’s minds and to me, it was the simplest thing in the world as there’d been the agencies of record pitching one big massive important B2B campaign for 18 months. They just kept coming in and nothing was a landing, and they’d go, “Go back to the drawing board.” We just weren’t marketing in a big above-the-line way, and I just started and it was my first week. They brought in some new agencies and the existing agency-

Matt: Was that Crispin Border?

Gayle: -and that’s the pitch.

Matt: Was what the genius was?

Gayle: The existing agency stuff was fun.

Matt: Oh, wow. Okay.

Gayle: It was like, “We have to go to bed with Steve and everybody on Tuesday, so I guess we should go.” I was like, “But there’s this genius. They’re like, “Oh,” but it’s not right for us and they don’t get us and it’s too off. I was like, “But we have a whole weekend.” I remember talking to Mitch, the CMO at the time and I was like. “Well, what if I got in a plane and went and worked with them all weekend. Monday, we’ll come back, and if we’re there, great. We can bring both ideas and if we’re not there, no harm. We’ll go with the okay idea.”

Matt: The status.

Gayle: I’m so glad I did it. It’s funny.

Matt: What made it genius?

Gayle: I’m still great friends with Rose and Ty.

Matt: Right, Rose and Ty.

Gayle: The thing that I see a lot in my career and a lot of the best moments I’ve had is we broke down the walls between agency and client. They let me into the workroom. We stayed up till midnight, two in the morning. Then they’d be like, “Go away and come back at 8:00 AM.” Then rip it apart and then give us some time. We worked together for 72 hours.

Matt: That is how-

Gayle: That’s how it should be, right?

Matt: -how it should be. We talk a lot about the hippo, which is the highest paid person’s opinion.

Gayle: [chuckles]

Matt: My experience is agency goes behind these walls and they come up with this incredible idea or what they think is incredible, and then they pitch the hippo.

Gayle: Yes.

Matt: During the meeting, the hippo shows up late.

Gayle: [laughs]

Matt: Sometimes, they’re on their phone, which used to drive me crazy.

Gayle: Crazy, oh, yes.

Matt: Ultimately, it’s like “You’re champions. I don’t know. It matters what the hippo said, whoever that is.” A lot of times their decision isn’t made on data. It could be based on what their daughter told them when they were dropping off at school or a TV show they heard and that’s going to basically jade their opinion in a certain direction, which may or may not be right for the business, but there’s no data behind that decision.

Gayle: Exactly. I think that’s the challenge we all have with creative ideas. That’s why creative testing I think is so interesting.

Matt: Absolutely.

Gayle: It’s such an interesting space. We’re doing more and more of it with audio. We’re trying to do more and more of it with you guys in audio because I think just getting a gut check. Testing doesn’t tell you all the answers, but it prevents the disaster and it sometimes, it helps you find a spark of genius you might have missed.

Matt: Absolutely. I’m often asked, “What’s the ROI of research?” I’m like, “Well, what’s the ROI of a seatbelt?”

Gayle: [chuckles]

Matt: It only matters if you really-

Gayle: If it matters.

Matt: -need it, right.

Gayle: Yes.

Matt: We’re going to get into our next section called Culture Watch. As you know, this podcast is called The Speed of Culture and Suzy is a tool that really enables insights and research at The Speed of Culture. We’re going to ask you a couple questions, one of which you’ve already answered, so we’re going to jump into the next three. In classic Gayle Troberman

Gayle: [chuckles]

Matt: -form, she’s making her rules up as we go along and I can roll with the punches. I’m going to ask you three questions and we’ll touch upon the one that you just answered as well. Just answer quickly in 30 seconds how you feel about this particular topic and then we’ll dive in.

[music]

Matt: Question number one is what do you think the fastest growing industry will be in the next few years and why?

Gayle: Sure. I think audio is growing crazy fast, right, on a huge base which is the exciting part of it. Obviously, I’m a little biased-

Matt: Of course.

Gayle: -but broadcast radio is still reaching nine out of 10 Americans because-

Matt: Wow.

Gayle: -it’s live and it’s human and it’s unscripted. It’s not just a place to hear music. It’s a place to actually have a conversation and not be alone. It’s a really bizarre business most people don’t understand. That’s why I think with all the world’s music in my hand right now on this phone, we’ve certainly seen people listening in their cars. They listen on their smart speakers. They listen on their laptops, on their phones, on their watches-

Matt: Everywhere.

Gayle: -on their TVs, but we’re seeing listening continues to grow and to more types of content. I think in this moment where I think the promise of digital was going to unite us all in a Kumbaya lovely, the world disconnected. God, what we’re seeing is the opposite.

Matt: Yes.

Gayle: It’s brought out our worst selves. It’s become a place that makes you feel worse, not better. I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of content that’s live and human. Companionship conversation media seems to be growing everywhere and I think that’s why we’re seeing this massive new podcast rocket ship grow. Podcasting is really similar. It’s mostly human and unscripted.

The other thing I think that’s fueling audio growth, particularly podcasting growth, is that you were way ahead of the understanding millennials with Mr. Youth back in the day. I think we really as marketers missed and most content companies misunderstood millennials. We kept talking about short attention spans, but we forgot we were talking about the most curious, interested, educated generation-

Matt: Connected, too.

Gayle: -in the US, connected and educated and interested. We were going, “Oh, 140 characters. You can only handle 15 seconds of my advertising,” and yet, they’re listening to three-hour podcasts about revisionist history.

Matt: Of course, they’re binge-watching 20 shows on Netflix in a row.

Gayle: Exactly, entire seasons of smart, interesting content, so that’s why I think podcasting has really filled a void, particularly for that millennial audience who are smart and interested and curious.

Matt: Absolutely.

Gayle: I think we’re going to see audio growth just continue and wireless headphones, now your ears are connected to the grid, so think about that. We were consuming most all our content through our eyes and now our ears are connected. It’s like extra bandwidth.

Matt: Look at AirPods. People think AirPods are going to be the future of the smartphone.

Gayle: Yes.

Matt: It’s a one wearable device that’s really taken on in a true utilitarian way-

Gayle: Exactly.

Matt: -for consumers. I forget they’re in my ears. I wear it the entire day and it creates such utility I never thought and it’s all based on audio.

Gayle: Yes, exactly. That’s why I think audio is destined for continued growth and sustainability, but most marketers don’t understand much about it, so-

Matt: Exactly.

Gayle: -the opportunity.

Matt: What do you think will be the fastest growing product or product category in the next few years?

Gayle: Yes. I think the obvious answer of the week has to be metaverse, but what that means I think it’s saying internet back in the mid-’90s. What exactly does that mean? I think we’re all in a learning phase. At iHeart, we’ve made some announcements. We’re going to take a lot of the success we’ve had in our events business. We do hundreds of events from the big Jingle Balls to small local events, music events, concerts. We’re going to start bringing events into the metaverse, so we can connect fans and artists and brands in some new ways. We’re going to start learning.

We’re going to go where consumers are. We’ve announced we’re going to go into Roblox. We’ll be creating iHeart lands. Now we can bring without all the physical world costs of what it costs to put on a job festival or a live event in the real world, I think we can do even more interactive and more engaging opportunities that bring the fan closer and closer to the artist

Matt: -and the community around the artist.

Gayle: -and the community, yes.

Matt: Absolutely.

Gayle: Exactly.

[music]

Matt: I know we were talking just before this interview and this was your answer for the fast growing consumer trend, you talked about basically the connection of real world and digital.

Gayle: Yes.

Matt: I was talking to Rich Kleiman, another person who we interviewed for the podcast who runs Thirty Five Ventures and Kevin Durant’s business partner. He said the same thing. He basically said, “You guys both share that. You guys play in the entertainment world.” Him more into sports, although he does the music and you in music. There’s this notion of being able to go to a physical event, being able to experience in the metaverse or digitally, being able to buy tokens that get you access to both, that there’s something there that’s going to be unlocked, that’s going to be transformational. The question is when’s it going to come out? What is going to be? How’s it going to be adopted, et cetera?

Gayle: Yes, exactly. Creatively, in the virtual world, who knows? I think everything’s possible. I think blockchain commerce is going to be real. I think we’re learning fast in the NFT space. That’s the other place we’ve been dabbling. When you go to an iHeart event, you want to engage with the event. A simple thing like a QR code? Who would’ve thought QR codes-

Matt: Crazy.

Gayle: -would become so important?

Matt: Well, the pandemic really accelerated that.

Gayle: They’re so accessible. Yes, now that we know how to grab-

Matt: Menus.

Gayle: -menus. We were shocked. We did our first QR code virtual upgrades, rewards, experience loyalty program at the iHeartRadio Music Festival last fall. The daytime stage where all the hottest pop stars who were just breaking-

Matt: Sure.

Gayle: -are there and it’s tons and tons of teens. I was shocked. People entered. They walked through a QR canyon. They did all their steps and repeated pictures on their way into the venue. About two-thirds of the attendees grabbed the code to enter to win upgrades, to get free stuff from brands, to get a meet and greet with one of the artists. All of a sudden, what used to be somebody on a mic trying to scream from the stage into a loud arena and crowd, now everybody can engage and participate in that show and experience.

Matt: Have access.

Gayle: We have a two-way communication going now at scale with a simple thing like a QR code.

Matt: That is such a sea change from when we were growing up. Whatever you wanted to hear, you would have to buy the cassette tape for $20 and beg your parents for or whatever Clear channel– or whatever it was called before that – was playing on heavy rotation. That was it. You didn’t really have the choice at all, and now, it’s the complete opposite and there’s just limitless choice. Within that limitless choice, you have communities where you feel comfortable, and you feel “This artist represents who I am.”

Gayle: Exactly. The tribes?

Matt: Yes, the tribes, right. Podcasts, I would argue, is another point of that. I think if you can layer on top some type of currency, community, content, accessibility altogether, then you have people that basically are getting such value in an area where they feel connected in this world that’s become increasingly polarized.

Gayle: It’s so true like that. When we do so much work with the artists, their fan armies are insane.

Matt: I know.

Gayle: You’re right when you say podcasting because a super fan of Stuff You Should Know, they listen to every episode over and over again. They subscribe, they follow, they show up at live events. The podcasters are becoming the rockstars building these new communities of listeners.

Matt: It’s so true.

Gayle: It’s so different from those of us who might watch a movie or a TV series. There is something about the connectedness of these audio tribes and they want more. They’re rabid, so that’s where things in the virtual world become so exciting.

Matt: Absolutely. I was in Las Vegas for a Philadelphia Eagles game night and I’m a huge fan.

Gayle: [laughs]

Matt: I listen to this podcast that a couple of guys do about the team. I was with my friends in Las Vegas. I, all of a sudden, got star-struck with this random middle-aged dude. I ran away from my friends who were like, “Who is that?” I’m like, “Oh, he’s the host of my favorite Eagles’ podcast.” They were making fun of me.

Gayle: Yes. No, it’s so true.

Matt: You think that’s because you’d think that I was running towards Michael Jordan.

Gayle: But you feel you know those people, right?

Matt: 100%.

Gayle: A lot of our broadcast radio personalities, too, they always say it like people ask Ryan Seacrest all the time, “Dude, you’re on Idol and you’ve got your own morning show. Why do you get up every morning and do three hours of live radio? It’s our gig,” and he’s always like, “Because those fans keep me real.” He’ll be standing with Katy Perry and people will come up trembling like, “Katie, can I get a picture?”, and they’ll be like,” Oh, Ryan, would you just take it? How’s that cold you had?” They feel like they know these people-

Matt: It’s about being connected.

Gayle: The intimacy is so different in audio than the artifice of screens in video.

Matt: I want to wrap with one point that you were-

Gayle: Sure.

Matt: -talking about earlier in terms of you flew to New York to meet with Ty and Rosemary, who are two great creatives-

Gayle: Yes.

Matt: -who were JWT and then went to found their own agency. There was something about this idea that you loved, and there was a safe idea. Ultimately, like in our industry, everyone throws around the word insights.

Gayle: Yes.

Matt: Insight this, insight that. To me, the most insightful person ever is Jerry Seinfeld. You watch all the shows, and the humor was from whatever that one funny insight was, where-

Gayle: It’s so true.

Matt: -people are quiet on elevators.

Gayle: It was an observation.

Matt: Right?

Gayle: Yes.

Matt: Yes. It’s an insight that hits people. It strikes a chord inside them and makes you really want to open your eyes to whatever story they’re trying to tell. Is that why you thought it was special?

Gayle: Exactly. We did end up working with JWT on that campaign and we ended up winning a Cannes Lion for that campaign. It was a B2B campaign and the insight was really simple. The world was changing because of technology and all of the different siloed divisions of the company were finally going to have to work together. This is going back, whatever, 10, 12 years ago, but the marketing and IT-

Matt: -tearing down the wall.

Gayle: Yes, and the CEO and HR and all of a sudden, technology was bringing these people together to force them to make decisions to plan, to communicate, and that was the insight. We have to break down these walls. The campaign was called Because It’s Everybody’s Business.

Matt: Yes, I remember that.

Gayle: When everyone’s a stakeholder, you think about things really differently. It was a genius campaign. It was also beautifully done, but it was really hearing from those different sides of the business and those are conversations that weren’t happening. They were very, very siloed and we gave voice to them at the scale of national media in a really unique way.

Matt: To wrap this, often, a great insight flies in the face of a shiny object.

Gayle: So true.

Matt: Right, so the idea is not the medium. The idea is the insight-

Gayle: Yes.

Matt: -and what you build on it. Then it could be [unintelligible 00:26:25].

Gayle: Don’t buy the thing. Have an insight. Understand something about your customers, and then figure out which things deliver all that insight.

Matt: That’s hard work.

Gayle: It is.

Matt: Anything that’s hard work, people will skip over to the fun stuff.

Gayle: Yes.

Matt: It’s just that’s how they are. That’s why I think you see a lot of not-great work out there. Companies that don’t know how to continue to build their brand, et cetera. It’s definitely an opportunity.

This has been amazing. We covered a lot of ground. One final question I have for you is, in a fast-paced world and you’re going east coast, west coast, and running around with iHeart, what do you feel is worth slowing down for you? What slows Gayle Troberman down?

Gayle: [chuckles] What slows me down? Age.

Matt: [laughs]

Gayle: Other than that, I think one of the things, COVID was such a learning moment for all of us as humans. One of the things that I got back into was just, I think, some of the amazing content that’s out there. You were talking about the ability to just slow down and actually watch a great film. Actually pay attention and watch, not multi-task, but actually stop and consume really quality content. That’s something I want to keep doing. Similar on the life side, I think we say we all missed human contact and connection. I think, at least in our lives, what we missed so much wasn’t all the travel and the giant events and stuff. They’re fun, but what I missed was just a few friends and a great meal and that conversation, and we’re really trying to keep that and bring that back. Just people you love at the dinner table having a meal and a conversation-

Matt: Absolutely.

Gayle: -and making time for that. That’s-

Matt: Fantastic.

Gayle: -the most important thing.

Matt: To wrap things, in our last episode with Rich Kleiman, partner and co-founder of Thirty Five Ventures, we talked about how brands are partnered with influencers to create content. Rich wanted to know if consumers thought that influencers there should be more like an ambassador for a brand or if they should be there for the long term because what we find a lot is that brands stick to influencers for a short time then go on to the next thing. They don’t really be connected the same way that maybe Michael Jordan was connected to Nike.

What we actually found is that some consumers actually thought, about a quarter, that influencers should stick with brands for a short time and others should be for the long period, so indifferent there, but that was a great question, Rich. While we have you, Gayle, what is one question you want to ask consumers on the Suzy platform about anything that we touched upon today?

Gayle: I’m obviously passionately curious about all things audio, so I’d love to learn more from consumers. I have my theories and certainly a bunch of our own research, but I’d love to hear more from consumers about why they listen and why they listen to different types of content. I’d love to get to that idea of, “Do you listen to be connected? Do you listen to not be alone? Are you listening for the content itself, for the ideas? Are you listening to learn? To be entertained?” I think it’s really interesting to keep understanding why people connect to audio in a different way.

Matt: It’s so interesting.

Gayle: It impacts our brain differently, so the more insight I get about that, the better we are at iHeartRadio.

Matt: Yes, and talking about consumer insights, since Suzy has not had an office since the middle of the pandemic, although we get together as much as we can, but when I’m at home in my home office working and it’s completely quiet, I cannot work.

Gayle: Yes, it’s bizarre.

Matt: I need to put something on, and that gets me in a flow state. I think, for some people, audio is distracting if they’re multitasking. For me, it turns my engine on.

Gayle: Yes. It’s- what’s the role of audio in your life, right?

Matt: We’ll definitely dig in. Well, Gayle-

Gayle: Killer.

Matt: -as expected, this has been amazing so I just want to thank you again. Also, thank you for being a huge part of Suzy’s journey and success, being a member of our board of directors since really the beginning, and it’s been incredible to work alongside you. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you, so thank you for that.

Gayle: Awesome.

Matt: This should be great. I’m really excited for our audience to hear this, so on behalf of me, the entire team at Suzy, and Adweek, I just want to thank everyone for joining. Until next time, we’ll see you on The Speed of Culture podcast. Thank you, everyone.Matt: The Speed of Culture is brought to you by Suzy as part of the Adweek podcast network and A Guest Creator network. You can listen, and subscribe to all Adweek podcasts by visiting adweek.com/podcast. To find out more about Suzy, head to suzy.com and make sure to search for The Speed of Culture at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or anywhere else podcasts are found. Click follow so you don’t miss out on any future episodes. On behalf of the team here at Suzy, thanks for listening.