It’s one thing for broadcasters to be celebrating a renewed interest in audio. But when the idea comes from Madison Avenue, the message is amplified. And that’s what the head of one of the biggest media buying shops in the U.S. is offering. Bill Koenigsberg, the founder and chief executive of Horizon Media, believes that’s tied to the strengths that audio campaigns offer.
“Imagination of the mind, of what audio can do, is probably more important than ever before,” he said. “I know we’re seeing a resurgence, which is going to benefit all the audio players out there. Audio is the ‘new media’ and it is the future.”
Speaking on the second series premiere of the Math & Magic: Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing podcast hosted by iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman, Koenigsberg said audio advertising’s ability to work for clients is a foundation he learned four decades ago when he first began working in advertising, and it remains true today. “The power of audio and the power of TV work to drive a brand and drive a business outcome,” Koenigsberg said. “Forty years later, if you think of everything that has transpired, audio and TV still work even though the advent of all the new media that’s out there. The tried-and-true of 40 years ago is still the tried-and-true today.”
Even as many in advertising circles are rediscovering audio’s ability to work with clients, Koenigsberg said some things have changed for both the medium and media buying shops like his. “Today we can prove positive business outcomes by the use of data,” he said. “Every brand has a different type of consumer journey. Data is leading us every step of the way in terms of how we interact, where we interact, the type of interaction, and the type of content that needs to be produced. Data is at the epicenter of what we do. It informs every decision we make and now it’s all interconnected.”
New York-based Horizon Media has estimated billings of $8 billion a year with clients including Geico, Corona and Burger King. Its belief in audio led the company to launch the audio-dedicated unit Wordsworth & Booth in 2016.
In his wide-ranging conversation on Math & Magic, Koenigsberg talks about how he founded Horizon Media in 1989 by convincing his bosses to sell him the company and lend him the money to do it, why he invested $30 million to build a company headquarters that includes such perks as a gym and sleep pods, and why he only hires smart people who make him uncomfortable.
“I want to hire the smartest people around me who can make me smarter and make me think differently,” Koenigsberg told Pittman. “I stand very strong on my opinions and if someone is strong enough to convince me that I'm wrong, I will absolutely change, there's no doubt about it.”
And as highly successful as he and his business now are, Koenigsberg also addressed the importance of resilience and appreciating the tougher times and the lows of business. He said the lows he’s experienced taught him “about being incredibly humble, that unless you feel the lows of the business, you're never going to appreciate the highest anywhere near as much as you can if it comes easy to you. And I believe that nothing comes easy.”