Peter Weingard, Chief Marketing Officer of New York Public Radio (WNYC/WQXR), and renowned digital marketer, has had a stellar career at the intersection of media, data, and technology. In the midst of rapid changes in media and technology in the last several decades, he has stayed ahead of the curve and delivered for top brands including the Food Network, the New York Times, and Clear Channel Entertainment (now Live Nation).
Weingard's list of accomplishments is a testament to his nimbleness in changing times. Soon after joining WNYC in 2015, Weingard launched the WNYC Studios imprint, which doubled the station’s audience to become the second-largest podcast studio in the US, with 36 million downloads per month. He also grew WNYC’s livestream business, reversing a three-year decline. Prior to joining WNYC, Peter was part of the management team that built and grew Food Network's mobile dining reservations business, CityEats, from concept to a multi-million dollar exit in under three years.
In anticipation of his speaking engagement at our BRITE ’18 conference, we interviewed Weingard to get his perspective on best practices for being agile, the state of the media industry, and upcoming innovations.
1. You have been building, branding, and accelerating the growth of businesses at the intersection of media, data, and technology since the 1990s. Over that time, the media, data, and technology landscape has changed tremendously. What skill would you say has been the most important to help you become a successful CMO?
Probably no role in an organization has evolved as much as the CMO has in the past 10 years. Today, we're often the largest internal builders and consumers of technology, the data warriors, the growth hackers, the market analysts, as well as the brand builders and customer advocates. I once heard my role referred to as the "Chief Connecting Officer," and that could be apt, as the key skill modern CMOs bring to the organization is the synthesis between the right brain and the left. We are the role that connects data to strategy and strategy to execution.
2. From your perspective, what are the three most important actions that marketers need to take to build agile teams that are able to understand and make effective use of emerging technologies?
First, hire a diverse group of digital natives with a range of skills, from social media to SQL, from mobile to video. Second, deploy agile project management techniques developed by digital product teams – morning stand ups, short sprints, etc. Lastly, measure and optimize effectiveness and don't be afraid to abandon something that isn't working.
3. You previously commented in an interview that audio is experiencing a renaissance. What do you foresee to be the most important innovation in audio (development, distribution, or consumption) over the next 5-10 years, and how will it impact the media industry?
I think the biggest near-term technological advance in audio is the smart speaker. We’ve observed that the use of smart speakers is making audio a communal experience again, as listeners are removing the headphones and sharing the experience with those around them. The 'radio,' as it were, is once again becoming the center of the living room. The other big advance, though it is farther off in the future, will be the connected car, bringing the on-demand audio experience to vehicles.
4. Besides the hectic pace of change in the industry, what is the biggest challenge that you foresee for marketers in the media and entertainment industry in the next few years?
For media generally, there is a secular deflation in its value that I expect will continue as audiences continue to fragment and move away from traditional mass media models. Broadcast television is particularly vulnerable as advertisers chase the Millennial and Gen Z audiences to nonlinear platforms. So the challenge is to disrupt ourselves and create new media businesses that will deliver value to these future audiences. WNYC Studio's growth in podcasting is an example of success in this area.
5. How do you see the current US sociopolitical climate affecting both media companies and brands?
Certainly for those of us in news media, the events leading up to the last presidential election have highlighted the values that the news media provide: the ability to hold power to account, reporting truthfully, and enabling the civil discourse is critical to a functioning democracy. But beyond journalism, many traditional brands sense a void left by the federal government that they can fill, using the platforms we manage and our understanding of communications to open people's hearts and minds. P&G has been a leader in this respect.
6. On the personal side, who is one of your favorite music artists and why?
Frank Zappa. He was inventive, outspoken and utterly original. I guess you can say he embodies many of the values I've been talking about here; he's agile, socially conscious, and really great with sound.
See Weingard speak at BRITE ’18 (March 5-6, NYC) and hear more about his efforts at New York Public Radio and how to be agile in light of disruptions in marketing and media.