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Radio’s Rich Data Opportunity In The Connected Car.

The connected car offers a goldmine of data on the activities of its occupants, from the media they’re consuming, where they are, where they’re going and where they stopped along the way. This is opening up new opportunities for broadcasters, advertisers and car makers, a group of automotive, technology and broadcast execs said Monday.

“There is a lot of data that is generated by a vehicle and its occupants and a lot of that, at the most basic level for radio, can be extremely valuable in the advertising world,” Scott Burnell, Global Lead, Business Development & Partner Management at Ford Motor Co., said Monday during a webinar presented by auto tech industry info provider TU-Automotive. “The things I hear all the time are ‘just in time advertising’ and ‘right amount of time content.’”

The former refers to targeted advertising that takes into account a person’s location, time of day and other variables. A discount coupon for takeout dinner, for example, could be served for a restaurant located on the person’s ride home. The latter means knowing how long the individual’s commute is and delivering the appropriate amount of relevant content. “You know where they’re going and what they’re listening to. You can throw up specialized and personalized advertising that’s more pertinent, so instead of a CPM [cost per thousand impressions] model now you’re in a CTA model [call-to-action].” This type of attribution would allow broadcasters to show that the Home Depot offer delivered to a vehicle was saved by a driver, who then visited a Home Depot store the following weekend.

The connected car’s firehose of data also creates opportunities to deliver more personalized content, said Laurence Harrison, Chairman of the Automotive Committee of World DAB, a global nonprofit for the advancement of broadcast digital radio based on the European DAB / DAB+ standard. Using automotive-optimized data will allow broadcasters to deliver “rich experiences in the car,” he said.

HD Radio licensor Xperi’s merger with TiVo gives it access to one of the three major suppliers of music metadata. “That’s an asset we can bring to the broadcast radio industry to help them annotate their content to create the personalization and the rich user experience,” said Joe D’Angelo, Senior VP of Radio Broadcast at Xperi. Metadata about specific programs and hosts can be used to help listeners find the audio content they’re looking for via voice platforms like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

‘Strong Role To Play In Connected Cars’

Radio will enjoy an important position in the connected car for a long time, the execs said. “Radio is going to have a very strong role to play in connected cars in the future,” said Harrison. Pointing to its enduring popularity as a medium, Harrison described radio as “live, personal and mobile – it creates human connections and most importantly the radio stations are incredibly strong brands and have endured through the digital revolution in a way that many people didn’t think it would.” Harrison argued that the current global pandemic has reinforced broadcast radio’s strength, with 38% of commercial radio listeners in the UK tuning in 90 minutes longer.

During the past 20 years, radio has embraced a panoply of new distribution platforms, from HD Radio to streaming to apps and smart speakers. “Broadcasters have made a conscious effort to be everywhere on every platform where their listeners are and I think you are seeing an increase in traditional radio listening because of that,” said D’Angelo. And while radio will continue to have “a vibrant future” in the car, it is one that is also evolving, D’Angelo added.

From his perceptive on the automaker side, Burnell urged broadcasters to focus on their core competency of delivering content, whether news, sports, music or podcasts, and not get bogged down in the terminology of radio.

HD Radio side channels have expanded the New York radio dial from around 40 stations to nearly 100, while also bringing localized versions of national plays like iHeartMedia’s Pride Radio and the Black Information Network and Entercom's Channel Q to the FM dial. All that additional content has made discovery and navigation of the radio dial “a much different challenge but a huge opportunity,” D’Angelo said. Hybrid radio, which Xperi in North America and Radioplayer in the UK are bringing to market, can help simplify that process for the consumer, he said.

Burnell noted that consumers build their media habits before they get behind the wheel and that a growing number of Americans reaching the legal age to drive don’t have a traditional broadcast radio in their home. According to the 2020 Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, 52% of 18-34 year-olds said they lived in household with no traditional radio in the home. Offering another reason for radio to promote the availability of its content on digital devices to young consumers, Burnell observed, “They’re listening on their devices before they get in and then when they get in they just want to bring their habits with them.”

The "How are Radio Broadcasters Embracing New Connected Technologies to Remain Relevant” session was moderated by Doug Newcomb, Senior Industry Analyst at Wards Intelligence.

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