author is president of Jacobs Media, which he founded in 1983.
station operators have had to adjust to a fast-changing kaleidoscope
of change throughout the media and technology ecosphere.
montage of images from the Detroit telecommunications conference this
streaming to social media to mobile to new competitive threats,
radio’s place in the 21st century media landscape has become far
radio could always count on the car. Just about everyone drives, and
radio’s ability to provide myriad entertainment and information
options in vehicles has been one of its core strengths.
the decades, media and technology have threatened radio’s in-car
dominance, starting with 8-tracks, cassettes and CDs — the
consumer’s first effort at customizing their mobile entertainment.
Then came satellite radio, an appealing subscription option for those
seeking different content and consumers who spend a great deal of
time commuting or driving for a living.
all the while, radio was relatively safe in the cocoon of the
driver’s seat. The “two-knobs-12-presets” standard kept radio
locked in as the primary infotainment source for consumers on the
road … until now.
appreciate the car’s new importance, consider how often business
decisions made by modern-day station managers revolve around the
First, the lion’s
share of broadcast radio listening takes place while driving. And
interestingly, this is even more the case for younger generations.
While they may avail themselves of music services such as Pandora,
Spotify and YouTube while at home, work or school, in-car options
have been more limited in scope.
Techsurvey9 — the largest study of media and technology for the
radio industry — clearly shows the importance of cars on overall
listening. Our Techsurveys explore technology preferences among
people who actively use radio. More than half of the latest sample
reports that all or most of their broadcast radio consumption takes
place while driving, especially Millennials or Gen Y.
consideration is that the automotive sector continues to be a primary
source of advertising revenue for radio. In fact, for many stations,
clusters and companies, it remains the top sector, albeit challenged
by upstarts that directly connect consumers via search and more
last offshoot of this is telematics, offering exciting initiatives by
every automaker and Tier 1 supplier to redefine the infotainment
offerings in cars. The “connected car” is changing the interface
between car companies and consumers, including showroom
conversations, model selection and transactions.
while radio broadcasters have always had an innate grasp of in-car
entertainment — from strong morning commute shows, traffic and road
information, even pushbutton preset strategies — the current state
of cars with “digital dash,” and the implications for the radio
industry, seem to elude broadcasters at a time when their
understanding of this changing space should be growing rather than
spring in Novi, Mich., Telematics Update held its annual conference,
bringing together an enthusiastic group of automotive and media
professionals to discuss this ongoing hot topic, “the connected
car.” Some 2,000 professionals made the trip to the Detroit metro
the radio broadcasting industry was not well-represented, aside from
Arbitron’s Dr. Ed Cohen, NPR, iBiquity Digital and my company,
the other hand, “radio” was represented by a number of companies
and brands, including Pandora, Slacker, Aha and SiriusXM (a platinum
sponsor). You have to wonder how the automotive companies and Tier 1s
at the event interpreted radio’s interest and commitment levels,
based on who was, and was not, in attendance.
automakers are moving ahead on all cylinders, and while each OEM has
a different idea of what works, they share similar visions about the
value of telematics. Everywhere you went at this conference, you
could find more proof that telematics is being driven by content,
services and distribution channels — especially the smartphone.
of the best panels was moderated by Strategy Analytics’ Roger
Lanctot, one of the brightest minds at this event. He joined three
area auto dealers, along with the head of the Michigan Automotive
Dealers Association. This marked the first year that car dealers were
invited to participate in these conferences, and it turned out to be
a riveting panel.
spoke of the sometimes-tenuous partnerships they have with the OEMs,
much like the network/affiliation relationship in radio. They also
noted that dealerships are the true connection point between the auto
brands and the consumers. The success of the “connected car”
doesn’t rely just on engineers and technologists. As the panelists
noted, problems with consumer adoption and education start and stop
with their brick-and-mortar local dealerships.
you looked at Telematics Detroit 2013, it was about “the connected
car.” As suggested by the photo montage (pictured), everyone has a
plan, a concept, a platform and a strategy for connecting consumers
to their vehicles.
Link emphasized the difference between following trends as a savvy
business decision, and merely being trendy.
the automotive space, it’s a lot like radio. It’s sometimes
difficult to differentiate the fads from the bona fide trends. So he
broke down “connected car” components into five silos:
safety/security, diagnostics, convenience (key fobs, remote
features), navigation and infotainment. And everywhere he looked, all
roads lead to …
because people don’t walk into dealerships asking about security
features or better “check engine light” diagnostics. Instead,
they are talking about their mobile entertainment and the features
their next car will offer. Embedded modems and smartphone
connectivity are at the epicenter of this conversation.
owe it to themselves, their stockholders and stakeholders to immerse
themselves in this space. It won’t be long before quarterly
investor calls will feature questions that go beyond the future of AM
radio, Rush Limbaugh’s antics and political ad spending. Analysts
are going to start asking about mobile strategies, connected cars and
how companies will handle these challenges moving forward.
is shaping up to be a bigger and more important of radio’s future.
That’s why we attend these conferences. Spurred on by our
Techsurveys, we continue to see evidence that it is paramount for
broadcast radio to show up, learn and let this industry know we care,
we’re engaged, we’re invested and we’re part of this future.
radio needs to be here, to become a part of the conversation, and to
remind the OEMs and Tier 1s — and the pure-plays — that we
were the original in-car content and still are #1 today. But
it will take more than broadcasters swooping in and throwing a
cocktail party to gain credibility in this emerging space. The
industry need to commit to partnerships, an exchange of ideas, dealer
initiatives and advertising programs that integrate local retailers.
year, put Telematics Detroit 2014 on your conference agenda.