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Latinx-Focus Podcast Network A Top 2021 Priority Says iHeart Executives.

After the success of The Black Effect Podcast Network, iHeartMedia is planning a similar podcast network targeting the Latinx community. “It’s a similar situation with an incredible creative community that is under-represented in podcasting,” iHeartPodcast Network President Conal Byrne explained. During a presentation to advertisers Thursday, he said the new initiative will be a top priority for 2021.

The outreach to Latinos is one that has already been underway. As part of the iHeartPodcast Network’s push to create more LatinX-targeted content, the company announced at Podfront LA 2020 in February that it had enlisted Enrique Santos, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of iHeartLatino, to develop a slate of podcasts. In another move to reach Latinos, iHeart signed a co-production and distribution partnership with ReVolver. The multicultural digital audio network will co-produce new podcasts focused on the Hispanic community.

Byrne told advertisers that iHeart is looking at working with other outside partners as it works to fill the Hispanic void in podcast content targeting the growing population. “Whole new audiences are coming into podcasting fast,” he said.

The Latino Podcast Listener Report from Edison Research found that 25% of U.S. Latinos age 18+ have listened to a podcast in the last month and 45% of U.S. Latinos age 18+ have ever listened to a podcast. Yet the data also showed that among U.S. Latino monthly podcast listeners, 80% say they are listening to more podcasts than a year ago.

The model for iHeart’s Latinx outreach is already being built with The Black Effect Podcast Network. The 50-50 joint venture between syndicated radio personality Charlamagne Tha God and iHeartMedia features a variety of Black voices with content across multiple genres.

“We want to give space to Black creators to tell their story in what we think is the coolest medium in the world,” said Byrne. “It’s also to pull in and invite in audiences that have not been enough in podcasting so far.”

During the hour-long pitch to marketers, Byrne said with podcasting now reaching more than 100 million Americans a month and a rush of creators like Shonda Rhimes and Will Ferrell getting into the medium, podcasting no longer belongs in the “experimental” part of the media plan. “It’s not an emerging medium, but there’s still a lot to come that keeps it exciting,’ he said.

The event, which was part of iHeartMedia’s Sound Front initiative, offered a peek into how the audio giant is positioning itself to marketers. CEO Bob Pittman talked up its ability to provide advertisers with attribution that goes beyond last click analysis to hone-in on actual sales.

“Today we have the capability to tell you how many people that heard the ad went to the store, versus people who didn’t hear the ad, how many people went to your website and how many people made a purchase using a credit card that we can track,” he said. “As an industry we’re going to push past this attribution of how many people clicked on it to how much did it sell.”

Pittman and Byrne positioned the company’s fast growing podcasting division as an “adjacent business” to broadcast radio with many of the same attributers – a host-driven storytelling vehicle that provides companionship.

“This is a new tier of influencers in the content game in the same way that broadcast radio folks are,” said Byrne. “You’re influenced most by what your companions and friends recommend because you trust them. You feel like they have your well-being in mind.”

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