4/8/13: RSW recap: In-car Net radio, The Infinite Dial, and the Erica Farber keynote

Paul Maloney
April 8, 2013 - 1:00pm

Delivering Internet audio to the car is hard. Everyone on the "Dashboard Discussions" panel, which led off yesterday's RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas, agreed on that.

So far, implementations are all unique and different, and it's expensive to work with carmakers. Entercom Director of Digital Operations Amy Van Hook (top right) explained that's why her company is sticking with aggregations like TuneIn, or Entercom's mobile apps, to connect to cars for now. Chia-Lin Simmons, Aha by Harman VP/Marketing & Content, said it can cost a million dollars to get integrated into the car "head unit." Moderator Roger Lanctot of Strategy Analytics verified that automakers make hard to "scale" integrations.

But it's incredibly important to be in the car. Broadcasters can't walk away from this vital listening "theater," and newer audio sources need that audience to grow. jacAPPS president Paul Jacobs reminded the crowd that the car is both radio's number-one listening location, and carmakers are radio's number-one client.

Simmons said we're living in a world now where customers expect their content to be delivered everywhere (and introduced the concept of "round tripping," where a listener can bookmark a place in their listening in the cloud, and pick it up where they left off once they're in the car).

"The DVR has changed consumers' expectations," agreed Van Hook. She also reminded the crowd that radio's dominance in the car won't be a given.

Of course, safety is a top priority. TuneIn's VP of Business Development Carl Rohling (lower right) explained his company's "car mode" interface, which simplifies and limits the controls to only the most basic (like "favorites"). But Panasonic Executive Director/Product Planning & Innovation added some historical perspective: in the 1930s, authorities were afraid audio entertainment in the car (that could travel at speeds of 40 mph!) might be a dangerous distraction. He predicted many of the safety concerns of Internet-enabled cars will be addressed by very exciting -- and somewhat futuristic -- advances in dashboard displays in just a few years.

So what are the strategies? Simmons' company is trying to bring the interactivity we've learned to expect from the desktop and mobile, in a safe way into the vehicle. The data her company collects can help content providers like webcasters better program, and better target ads. Rohling's TuneIn is also working at ways to help broadcasters monetize streams outside their local market.

But it's still that "local imperative," Jacbos said, "that makes radio important."

Look for more coverage from RAIN Summit West 2013 later today and in the coming days.

Paul Maloney
April 8, 2013 - 1:00pm

Arbitron and Edison Research last week unveiled the findings of their latest "The Infinite Dial" joint research (in RAIN here). They saved a few gems -- particularly about the engagement of listeners via e-mail and on social media -- for their presentation at yesterday's RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas.

Edison Research president Larry Rosin and Arbitron SVP of Marketing Bill Rose at the Summit revisited the important points from last week's "The Infinite Dial 2013: Navigating Digital Platforms" webinar. But they also explained that their study shows the value of radio's Facebook presence and e-mail listener databases, especially when compared to Twitter. One in ten U.S. radio listeners says they follow their favorite station on Facebook, and 20 million U.S. radio listeners have signed up to receive e-mail from their P1 station (that's 8% of radio listeners), depending on the format (public radio, religious, and rock listeners were most likely to join a station's e-mail list…up to 20% for rock listeners).

On the other hand, just 2% or 3% follow their "P1" station on Twitter. (Twitter's influence, especially in the media, Rosin said, is far greater than its actual usage, they've found.) Bill Rose explained that your station's will likely be your listener base's most tech-savvy segment (including being most likely to use online radio and listen via mobile apps).

Their takeaway: the listeners on your e-mail list can be an extremely valuable asset for you and your advertising clients.

We'll have more coverage from RAIN Summit West in the coming days.

Paul Maloney
April 8, 2013 - 1:00pm

RAB CEO/president Erica Farber's message at RAIN Summit West on Sunday: "The only way we can increase radio's share is to not take from each other, but from our actual competitors."

Farber gave the first keynote of our Summit event yesterday in Las Vegas.

TV, cable, magazines and newspapers, and pure-play Internet content is radio's real competition, including for local digital ad dollars, she stressed.

The good news, according to Farber, is that radio is in an excellent position going forward to maintain dominance in an ever-more digital world. Broadcasters can look forward to 30 million mobile phones with an active FM chip over the next three years, through an agreement with Sprint, and on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8. This will be just part of the push from broadcasters to "grow the pie" and expand their digital footprint. Radio will continue to innovate ad opportunities and features, Farber explained, with new levels of interactivity for listeners and new ways to reach them for advertisers.

Look for more coverage from RAIN Summit West in the coming days in RAIN.