Metaverse Marketing Part 2: iHeartMedia CMO and State Farm VP Dish on Challenges, Advice, Upcoming Projects

Posted on by Kaylee Hultgren

Last week we unveiled metaverse marketing strategies from iHeartMedia and State Farm executives, who dished on co-creating a new activation on Roblox, leveraging synergies between the two brands, the future of music in the metaverse, and more. Following is part two of our conversation with these trailblazers, where they delve into the challenges each brand has faced while building and marketing a metaverse activation, advice for businesses seeking to get jump into the space and the marketing initiatives coming down the pike for both.

Chief Marketer: What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered while creating experiences and engaging consumers in the metaverse? What advice do you have for brands looking to get involved?

Alyson Griffin, Vice President of Marketing at State Farm: I have to give a shout out to Chipotle who had a really cool activation. They had their actual chef talking about a recipe in the metaverse. A user could learn to make it and grill it, and then go taste it in real life down the street at your local Chipotle. I thought that was super cool, talking about their new product and driving real-world revenue from a fun little activation in the metaverse. That kind of “retail”… is easier to think about. For an insurance brand, that’s not the case. That’s where we leaned into the assets that we’ve spent decades and billions of dollars creating value for in the real world and thinking creatively about how to have them show up.

That’s why that initial NBA2K entrance for State Farm with Jake was really important, because we can test and learn and see, and now we know what we have in that asset. It’s thinking differently about the current suite of assets that a brand has at their disposal. Even the sonic [aspect]: On Roblox, in order to get the best viewing platform for the concert, you “jump” on our logo, and every time you jump on it, our “like a good neighbor” jingle plays. So, it’s being open and creative to thinking slightly differently about the wealth of assets that any brand has and being willing to try it. And if it doesn’t work, it’s okay.

Gayle Troberman, CMO of iHeartMedia: My advice would be similar. The collaboration is king, and particularly important when you’re trying new things for the first time. For us, it was a collaboration with the Roblox and Fortnite development teams who are experts in building gaming experiences. And then collaborating with brands that understand how their brand should show up and what makes sense for their consumers. And then collaborating with the artist community, with every artist thinking about what they want to do and how they want to show up. You have to be willing to be a little fearless.

It’s so much easier for brands to come in and partner with people, so we’re all playing different roles in this equation. A lot of brands do everything on their own. We put on thousands of concerts a year. Putting on concerts in the metaverse is different, but it’s still core to what we do. We’re already collaborating with the artists and their management and we know when their music’s coming out and what’s important to each artist at what point in the calendar. And we know how to promote each artist, whether it’s a hip hop artist or a pop artist or country artist.

Marketers love to have complete control, but when you’re taking a leap into the metaverse, you need to give up control and collaborate. And then you need to listen and learn and see what consumers are doing and what they’re loving and what they’re not loving. And then be willing to adapt and keep building. This is probably the most organic, living project we’ve ever created. It’s all about collaboration and learning.

CM: What are the specific strategic marketing goals for this program?

AG: Marketers are moving more and more into data and insights and testing. Creative is still very critical, but understanding all the different things that you can measure and how engagement happens and why is really important. From my perspective, especially in the metaverse, it’s all those new levers: engagement, dwell time, interaction, length… all of these different vectors that we’ve never had to measure before or paid attention to will inform what we do and how we change activations in the real world and virtually moving forward.

So, as marketing is pushed as a function to deliver—not be a cost center, but to be a revenue generator for any enterprise—it’s more and more important to understand all those levers. That’s part of the learning agenda that we have at State Farm for marketing: capturing current demand, generating future demand, and looking at the retention and loyalty of our in-book customers. To prove our value as a function, we are going to need to get more and more deeply integrated into the insights.

GT: For us at iHeart, our mission is to provide access to every audience, for creators and for artists and for brands. We go wherever the fans are. We try to create the best, most engaging experiences, and we always invite brands in from the very beginning to build with us and to co-create and collaborate. So far, every signal we have says we’ve got a hit with iHeartland. The fans are engaging, they’re playing, they’re interacting. The time spent is phenomenal. The number of engagements and actions people are taking, the social engagement and sentiment is incredibly positive.

The next step is, how can we scale this and keep listening and learning and building with more of our brand partners? A scalable way to engage and reach millions and millions of fans every day in an entirely new way without all of the costs and complexity that you face trying to put on events in the real world. We think it’s a powerful form.

CM: What’s coming down the pike for both of your brands in terms of marketing initiatives?

AG: We just launched personal price plan into the market. We think timing-wise with the macroeconomic trends going on, bringing the power of price in a personal plan helps our customers across the country not pay for things they don’t need. That’s where we’re focused: the value of our 20,000 agents across the country.

GT: We’ve always got tons of stuff going on at iHeart, but we just had our big AudioCon event a couple weeks ago with thousands of marketers, and we’re launching our new B2B marketing campaign to help marketers understand the power of audio. Consumers are spending a third of their media time now with audio. Broadcast is part of that, and podcasts and streaming are another huge part. We are launching our “Access to All” campaign that’s about educating marketers about the power of audio, how to do great audio creative, how to plan audio and how to measure audio. Consumers are spending more time there, but marketers are spending much less than a third of their budgets on audio. So we think there’s a huge opportunity there.



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