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What Connected Cars Mean For the Advertising Ecosystem.

The connected car is the new consumer household, a living room on wheels. For automakers it’s a data gold mine that advertisers are anxious to tap into for ad targeting. But rather than becoming just another data point in a complicated matrix of datasets from other sources, a group of digital audio ad experts on Tuesday expressed hope that the connected car could be the missing link that, when integrated into a holistic data graph, will allows marketers to better understand individuals.

For audio, the connected car represents another platform to engage audiences. “From a consumer behavior standpoint, we are at an inflection point of people wanting audio and audio usage being up,” Rachel Williamson, Entercom’s Chicago-based Regional President, said Tuesday during a webinar presented by Entercom. “In addition to more people being in cars for a multitude of reasons, there is a perfect storm from a consumer behavior standpoint that is setting the stage for connected cars in next few years to have a really strong future path.”

Consumers are being ushered into different types of audio content, including podcasting which continues to grow, said Katrina Cho, Managing Director of New Verticals at LiveRamp, which provides data connectivity services. But marketers are still getting their arms around these new audio behaviors. “It’s an opportunity for us to really up-level our strategies and take the time to understand and test,” Cho said. But rather than sticking with existing strategies that try to connect trillion of data points, Cho said it’s time to “build the right people-based identity structure” to support audio’s growth.

Frans Vermeulen, COO of Tru Optik, a data and measurement company focused on connected TV, streaming audio and gaming, drew a parallel with how the TV industry has evolved. During the past half-dozen years or so, it morphed from linear broadcasting to on-demand digital content distribution, enabling advertisers to deliver different ads to different households in what’s known as addressable advertising. “We’ve got a very similar parallel in the audio business with traditional broadcast radio and on-demand and streaming audio,” Vermeulen said. He made the case that the two need to be managed together by combining household-based and individual-based identities.

Carmakers, meanwhile, are harnessing the multitudes of data they collect in the vehicle to build advertising businesses of their own. That will bring a new level of addressability, measurement and attribution to advertising in the connected car, Vermeulen predicted.

People-based identity is paramount to success in the connected car and across the entire digital advertising ecosphere, Cho suggested. “We’re going to get much closer to understanding the most important person in this picture, which is the individual,” she said. But the industry needs to convince consumers that it will protect their identity and respect their privacy. And help them to understand how sharing their data can provide them with a better experience. “Consumers are allowing us into their lives with the value exchange and the understanding that we are going to do good by them,” Cho explained.

The opportunity to deliver highly targeted audio ads in the car is a huge opportunity for the industry, said Williamson. “The true uniqueness of radio is live content that connects with an audience,” she said. It delivers a bigger impact for advertisers than print or display advertising, while being extremely cost effective when it comes to developing customized ad creative that speaks to the right person with the right messaging. “Now with connected cars and smart speakers, we have the science behind the targeting,” Williamson continued. “That’s going to be the biggest thing as the audio industry evolves. The engagement that we can have with an audience is what other people are trying to create within the audio ecosphere. The war is going to be around telling stories, engaging audiences and being able to interact. It’s going to be exciting.”

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