Thanks to Arbitron, I was honored to do a joint presentation at their Client Conference yesterday devoted to “the digital dash.” Valerie Shuman was a “great get” for this session (credit due to Dr. Ed Cohen who envisioned this session). She’s the VP of Industry Programs for the Connected Vehicle Trade Association and had some great insights about this rapidly growing and changing space.
As Valerie pointed out, the average age of a car in the U.S. is now 11 years old – and that means that in the next year or so, many Americans will be in the market for a new vehicle. And many of these consumers will purchase one that is equipped with a system like Ford’s SYNC and Toyota’s Entune.
This is significant because as we learned in Techsurvey8, a majority of our 57,300 respondents say the lion’s share of the broadcast radio listening takes place behind the wheel. We also learned that half our sample is already able to connect a smartphone to their cars (yup, that AUX IN jack).
This means new options, connectivity, and a different experience than those pushbuttons that we’ve all grown to know and love.
I played a series of videos shot at CES and also SAE’s Convergence show this fall in Detroit. I’ve been waiting nearly a year to show them to broadcasters, and I was thrilled about the reception they received at the conference.
Radio needs to understand what the automakers – and aftermarket companies – are thinking, and how it will impact the listening experience – or should I say – the audio consumption experience.
Here’s a clip from a demo of Cadillac’s CUE, where you’ll see and hear the story behind the platform as well as a demo of how the system works.
So what can the average radio programmer, manager, or owner do about the oncoming connected car revolution?
- You need a mobile strategy. This is a shopworn topic in this blog, but the smartphone is the center of the universe for these systems. Making your station’s brand available on the key platforms is table stakes.
- Keep your content fresh and local. What do the car guys know? More than you think. To a person, each one looks at AM/FM radio as local radio – the programming that broadcasters create that no other audio entertainment outlet can.
- Rethink HD Radio. When you talk to the engineers, designers, and marketers at the big auto brands, they often talk about HD Radio integration as essential to providing a seamless experience for consumers – amidst the offering of Sirius/XM, Pandora, and iPods. I know this may sound counter-intuitive to many of you who hate on HD Radio, but if you listen to these automotive designers and engineers, you will hear a different story.
- Get close to your local car dealers. They are radio’s bread and butter. As Valerie told the crowd at the Arbitron Client Conference, consumers are walking into dealerships and asking about the digital dash infotainment systems – not air bags, braking systems, or convertible tops. It is essential your local car dealership owners hear about the value of radio, and experience how it works to fill their showrooms.
- Take a test drive. If you don’t own a vehicle with one of these systems, you need to get behind the wheel and experience it for yourself. Drive one, rent one, and experience a dashboard unlike any you’ve ever seen before. This is where your audience is headed, and understanding the new customer experience is as essential as understanding PPM – if not more so.
Jacobs Media will continue to be at the forefront of this revolution. Our commitment to mobile as researchers, consultants – and of course app development – is our “center stack.” We will be back at CES next month, as will a growing number of broadcasters who are beginning to understand that the consumer electronics and automotive industries are integral to radio’s future.