NZME recruits digital heavyweight James Butcher to advance online audio strategy

NZME, the owner of the NZ Herald, has announced the appointment of James Butcher as the head of digital audio.

The role will see Butcher lead NZME’s iHeartRadio and podcasting strategy.

He is the general manager of digital media at FCB New Zealand and was recognised for Service to the Industry at the recent IABNZ Digital Advertising Awards.

With extensive digital media and sales leadership experience, Butcher has worked across New Zealand, Australia and the UK, including Pandora (now owned by SiriusXM), Nine Entertainment (Mi9 NZ general manager) and Microsoft Advertising.

“I firmly believe digital audio remains the most underutilised channel for brands, and I’m looking forward to the new opportunities and innovation we can bring to market,” Butcher said.

NZME’s digital channels have seen significant growth during the past year and iHeartRadio is now the leading audio livestreaming platform in the country.

Total listening hours on iHeartRadio for October 2020 were 5.2 million and monthly audience reach was 714,000. iHeartRadio’s audience now represents 10 per cent of NZME’s overall terrestrial reach.

Butcher’s objective will be to continue growing those figures, while better integrating iHeartRadio content across NZME’s other channels. The advertising potential offered in this space could open the door to an untapped revenue source, as advertisers look for different ways to reach consumers.

Butcher has developed a strong track record of connecting advertisers, clients and consumers during his three-year stint at FCB Media.

“He knows first-hand the needs of clients and agencies, so I’m sure he will do very well in his new role and we wish him all the best,” said Blair Alexander, managing director of media at FCB.

NZME chief revenue officer Paul Hancox is optimistic about the impact Butcher will have on the business.

“James will take iHeartRadio to the next level for NZME,” said Hancox.

“With his combination of agency knowledge and digital expertise, James will be a brilliant addition to our business, working closely with our commercial teams and valued customers.”

Chief radio and commercial officer Wendy Palmer added: “James’ appointment is part of our commitment to growing our audio business, with a firm focus on our digital audio strategy. James brings with him great vision, fantastic relationships and the talent to grow a global platform right here in New Zealand, for our audience and advertisers alike.”

Butcher will join the NZME team in February 2021.

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