It's been a cataclysmic year for the auto industry. Electrification, autonomy, shared mobility, and connectivity are all ongoing themes that are in the process of transforming the car and the way we drive it in perhaps just a few years.
The NAB is “on it,” working on many different levels to establish relationships with auto companies, its executives, and the many Tier 1s and third party companies developing software that extracts data from those computers embedded in the cars we drive.
All of this signals more change on the automotive landscape. As has been the case for nearly a century, radio is going along for the ride. But given the medium's reach, its share of in-car listenership, its relationships with consumers, advertisers, and the local communities it serves, radio owns some important assets.
Just like during those heady days when Model Ts first rolled off the assembly line during the last century, the two industries are finding they are stronger working with one another. Today, radio has assets automakers covet – and vice-versa. And so, there is a renewed spirit over the potential to break new ground, establishing new partnerships and opportunities between the businesses first made famous by Guglielmo Marconi and Henry Ford.
And not a moment too soon. Amazon is rapidly coming to the dashboard. Ford was the first to bake “Alexa” into its SYNC system, and like the proliferation of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto just a few short years ago, Amazon is another mega-tech giant that could very likely change the game. Or invent a game of its own.
Think about the implications here. More than 100 million consumers have plunked down $99 to subscribe to Amazon Prime, so the connections between marketing and purchasing – while driving – are solidifying with each passing month.
But now Amazon is taking it one step further. Up until now, those ubiquitous Amazon boxes have piled up on porches, apartment building lobbies, and in offices. But now Amazon will deliver your stuff directly to your car.
A new service – Amazon Key In-Car – will deliver packages right to your parked vehicle – and in fact, place them in your trunk, while you're at work, shopping, dining out, or enjoying a ballgame.
Business Insider reports the service – now available in 37 metros – works with Volvo and GM vehicles with active On Call or OnStar subscriptions.
And so, all the old players – radio, brick and mortar stores, and to some degree, the car companies themselves – could be disrupted by this seamless purchasing and no-cost delivery system.
That reinforces the import of data – both to radio and automakers, each of whom are trying to figure out how to best utilize and harness it. Last week, Inside Radio reported on two companies – Connected Travel and Drive Time Metrics – both of whom were very visible in Las Vegas at the NAB Convention.
Each is offering different software models, features, and systems designed to utilize data from drivers – including radio listening – to ensure both automotive and radio broadcasting remain vital and in the game.
It all represents a new day for both industries – the Data Era. And while no one has it all figured out (yet), there are a lot of smart minds in and out of both industries working on developing systems and software that will be highly monetizable. Clearly, that was a topic in Vegas, as illustrated by the word cloud below. It's my own very non-scientific study of eavesdropping on many conversations, sessions, keynotes, and panels – the most uttered words at the NAB. And you can see what was #1:
A year or so ago, the D-word – data – was just a vague notion. In fact, radio generally associated it with Nielsen, Miller Kaplan, and music tests. But today, the data is coming alive, as both broadcasters and car makers realize their mutual partnership potential.
Up until now, cars have been rapidly depreciating bricks that transport you from Point A to Point B. And radios have simply added their local soundtrack to commutes and errands.
But as drivers and passengers are listeners and purchasers, a whole new treasure trove of data is coming alive – and the experience may be forever changed.
For broadcast radio, a business finding itself getting crowed out by dashboard competition in recent years, this could be a big one.
But as they say, the devil is in the details – and the data.