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NAB Show New York: Radio To Get Big Data From In-Car Listening.

After Daimler became the first automaker to integrate Xperi’s DTS AutoStage into its vehicles starting in 2020, Xperi is expected to announce early next month two more auto manufacturers that are currently pushing an over-the-air software update to convert the radio experience in their vehicles to Xperi’s hybrid radio platform.

The system, which combines digital broadcasting and internet services, gain access to analytics from connected car dashboards. Three more automakers are planning a similar deployment next year, while others are coming off the factory floor with the technology. Within the next 12-24 months, eight automotive brands are expected to install DTS AutoStage.

The increase in support from automakers is driving the installed base of hybrid-enabled radios. Xperi says this will take the number of tuning/location events it tracks in connected cars in the U.S. from 204 million this year to close to 25 billion next year, from 20,000 broadcast towers in the U.S., including full power stations, translators and repeaters.

“We've only launched with Daimler and we have an enormous amount of usage data,” Joe D'Angelo, Senior VP of Broadcast Radio at Xperi, said Wednesday at NAB Show New York.

Unlike HD Radio, which requires special hardware to be installed, Xperi’s hybrid radio system runs on software. “Cars can now be updated, like your cell phone,” D’Angelo explained.

The implementation of DTS AutoStage is creating a vast treasure trove of new analytics for broadcasters about their in-car listeners. “This is super exciting – it is big data for American radio from the connected car,” said Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media/Westwood One, who co-presented with D’Angelo at New York’s Javits Center. And the car is where most radio listening takes place.

A Mountain Of Big Data

The new listening data from connected cars is seen as a complement to Nielsen, not a replacement for it. Think of it as radio’s answer to the high-volume data that comes from TV set top boxes. Listening data from Xperi would add a mountain of big data to augment Nielsen’s radio measurement. “For the first time, like all the other media, radio will now have our version of big data to complement and supplement Nielsen.”

While panels ensure representativeness of audience measurement, big data provides a large sample size for stability and confidence.

“This is not a replacement for Nielsen, because if you want something that represents your market by age, gender, ethnicity, language, you get that with those panels,” Bouvard explained. “DTS AutoStage is going to bring us our large, connected car sample sizes, which will tell us stories that maybe we weren't able to tell before – with stability, and confidence.”

But unlike big data from set top boxes, where viewers are counted even when they are in the kitchen grabbing a snack – the so-called empty room syndrome – or in front of the TV but looking at their phone, Xperi says each datapoint will be linked to an actual person in a moving vehicle.

The listening data will be made available for free to radio broadcasters that partner with Xperi, via an online interface. There are three things participating stations need to provide Xperi: Static data, including their call letters, logo, on-air moniker, slogan etc. Their streaming URL so that when their over-the-air signal fades, the stream transitions in; and live data from the station’s programming system: title and artist of songs, name of advertisers from ads running, DJ name/photo.

Familiar Metrics

The data will be made available in metrics that radio broadcasters are familiar with: share, average time spent listening, percent of vehicles reached. Actual car counts and total tuning occasions won’t be made available because the sample size of enabled vehicles will be continually rising as more cars become enabled. Broadcasters see only their stations’ data, not competitors.

The measurement data will be available weekly in all markets, whether they are measured by Nielsen or Eastlan, or not measured at all.

“With a format change or seasonality or some big promotion occurring, you're now going to get the data,” Bouvard said. “That’s where it gets really cool.” For example, hourly tuning occasions surged on news/talk LBC London Sept. 8 on the news of the Queen of England’s health. Stations will also be able to show advertisers and prospects heat maps of their audience within the merchant’s trading area.

New User Experience

The NAB Show New York presentation also described a new user experience Xperi’s hybrid radio system will deliver:

  • Seamless blending of over-the-air signal to streaming if the signal weakens

  • On-demand news, weather, traffic and sports from AM/FM radio

  • Recommendations to other radio industry content, based on listening behavior

  • HD stations can become more prominent and less hidden

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