IHeart’s investment in Unified follows a data partnership formed by the two companies earlier this summer.
IHeart, which clocks 100 million uniques across its digital services and 70 million registered iHeartRadio users, uses Unified’s platform to pipe in social data and analyze audience segments and campaign effectiveness for itself and many of its advertisers.
Although Unified initially focused on developing a social operating platform for agencies and about 600 brands, Lui expects media companies, including broadcasters, to be a natural growth area in light of the iHeart partnership.
“Many are coming to terms with the fact that a large social data set didn’t exist five or six years ago, and it’s hard enough to parse through data for one channel, let alone across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram,” he added. “Then you need to connect it to the rest of your non-social or offline channels.”
Unified faces competitors from all corners. Although it arguably competes most with platforms like Kenshoo, Brand Networks and Nanigans on social ad execution, it’s also going up against large enterprise marketing clouds, such as Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce, all of which bake social into broader marketing stacks.
“We’re looking at social not just as a marketing or advertising channel,” Lui said. “Media companies and marketers want to know who responded to their ads or became customers, but they want to [understand the impact on] revenue and [broader] attribution.”