Jacobs Media

DASH Connected Car conference, Day 2

Friday, October 25, 2013 - 11:45am

Jacobs Media presented the second and final day of DASH, The Connected Car AudioTainment Conference yesterday in Detroit. (See Day 1 coverage here.)

Day 2 added a new dimension to the previous day’s industry discussions about the future of radio in the car, by introducing car dealers into the cross-sector mix. Three Detroit dealership owners were featured onstage before an attentive audience of radio pros eager to learn what type of listening consumers want in their cars. Some of the learnings were blunt: “If you are getting into the car via an antenna, and everyone is connecting digitally, you’re going to be left out.” And, on the revenue side: “You’d have to give me quantified data, for me to continue advertising with you.” One dealer wrapped up his contributions with this rueful comment: “When I got into car dealership, I didn’t know I’d have to understand the Internet as much as I need to.”

A session called “What’s New in the Car?” spotlighted execs from two car companies (Toyota, GM) and two aftermarket providers (Pioneer, Panasonic). Greg Ross, head of infotainment at GM, noted his company’s commitment to Internet connectivity: “16-million cars will be sold this year, and all will be connected.”

Larry Rosin of Edison Research showed video results of a consumer survey of new-car buyers, providing the day’s best LOL entertainment. The audience chuckled over segments featuring the difficulties of operating tech-heavy dashboards. There was no chuckling over brick-wall sentiments expressed by some subjects, especially when asked how their listening habits have been changed by expanded options. “I don’t listen to radio anymore because I don’t have to,” asserted one.

Erica Farber, president of the Radio Advertising Bureau, moderated a panel investigation of in-car ad strategies. Later, a cohort of radio DJs were questioned about their perspective on connected cars by Buzz Knight, VP of Greater Media.

Ed Cohen from Nielsen (who started the "Wild West” characterization of connected cars) hosted a consumer tracking panel, and Scott Burnell (Ford) joined Brian Lakamp (Clear Channel/iHeart) and Sarah Lumbard (NPR) in a discussion about partnering with automakers.

DASH Conference explores connected cars in Detroit

Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 12:10pm

In what Fred Jacobs calls the first radio-oriented trade conference in the motor city, several industries are intersecting this week to examine connected cars. Jacobs and his company, Jacobs Media, are hosting DASH, The Connected Car AudioTainment Conference.

Top execs from radio companies (Entercom; Greater Media), automakers (Ford; GM), solution providers (Clip Interactive, uBiquity), and Internet content brands (ESPN Audio, Pandora, TuneIn) had representatives on stage in Day 1 of the two-day event.

Automotive Keynote presenter Julius Marchwiki (chief of Ford’s SYNC AppLink product) emphasized the changing landscape of consumer technology, noting that by 2015 two-billion smartphones will be on the street, holding 180-billion app downloads, and claiming that 75 percent of survey respondents want to connect their phone to the car.

Entercom CEO David Field took a more complacent tack in a slideshow that emphasized AM/FM’s reach, while acknowledging recent survey data from Edison Research indicating that over half of connected Americans listen to Internet radio. Field asserted that, despite all disruptions implied by a conference devoted to multi-modal car listening, broadcast radio is in a “golden age.”

In the first of two “Breaking News” panels, Blair Cullen of ESPN Audio caused Twitter to light up over his remark that “the car is going to be the most expensive iPhone accessory ever built.” In the same panel, Patrick Reynolds of Triton Digital prophesied: “The future will be won by those who see themselves and publishers, not stations.

In the day’s final discussion panel, George Lynch of Pandora (head of Automotive Business Development) said, “Pandora is the next generation of FM.”

The DASH conference continues Thursday, adding car dealers and radio DJs to the mix of panelists.

INTERVIEW: Fred Jacobs and the DASH conference

Friday, October 4, 2013 - 10:30am

The connected car, built with a digital dashboard and Internet-delivered audio, is an increasingly vital touchstone for both broadcast radio and Internet radio. With that in mind, research and consulting firm Jacobs Media is hosting DASH: The Connected Car AudioTainment(™) Conference, scheduled for October 23 and 24 in Detroit, where the company is located. (See the DASH site here; the conference agenda is here.)

DASH is a deep dive -- a day-and-a-half conference devoted to the present and future of infotainment in the car. The event seeks to bring together many sectors which are converging in the space for a comprehensive discussion of how different influencers are shaping the future of car radio.

RAIN spoke with Jacobs Media president Fred Jacobs, to discuss the vision of his DASH conference.

RAIN: How did the DASH conference come to be?

FJ: The idea was to put together a mash-up of constituencies that are critically important to the conversation -- OEMs, tier-1s, advertising agencies in the automotive space, and car dealers. And of course radio people. There are a lot of moving parts. The challenge was to put together a conference that touches on all these different flavors.

To us, it’s simple. When you think about the role the car plays in the overall health and welfare of the radio business, it comes down to two things. First, the lion’s share of listening to broadcast radio takes place behind the wheel. Second, automotive is the largest category of revenue generation for most radio stations. So we thought: Let’s design a conference solely dedicated to the connected car.

Another genesis of this was the Consumer Electronics Show. A few years ago, Alan Mulally of Ford presented one of the keynotes. The automakers are excited about the [connected car] space. At many of [the tech-oriented conferences], radio is MIA. Pandora is there, satellite is there. We felt that radio needed to figure out that this space is critically important, and radio needs to be there.

RAIN: Radio has the most to lose in a big disruption taking place in the car. If radio is behind the curve, what do you think is the future of AM/FM in the car?

FJ: AM/FM is always going to be there. But broadcast radio outlets have to rethink their strategic position. For the most part, radio stations have been in competition with other stations down the dial for ratings and revenue. Part of what DASH is all about is to help open up their points of view to begin to see that they’re competing on a much grander scale.

You might think, ‘We have time.’ I think that would be a mistake. The radio industry needs to engage with the space, we need to get involved, deepen our relationships with the car companies -- they really do represent a large part of our future. We need to engage with them and let them know that broadcast radio always has been, and always needs to be, an important element of what is rolling off these assembly lines. We’re hoping that this event really helps deepen the relationship.

RAIN: In your “Connected Car” Super Session at the Radio Show in Orlando last month, you and Roger Lanctot showed videos of prospective car buyers grappling with the challenge of turning on the radio in digital dashboards. You also predicted that by 2017, all cars would be knob-free. Are those videos a warning to car companies?

FJ: They are. It’s very Wild West out there. The car companies are all moving in different directions. None of these systems talk to each other. The OEMs feel that what they’re developing is the right way for them. It’s every company for itself. They’re all doing extensive research to figure out what the consumer wants, but it’s still pretty embryonic. Those videos really show that.

Of course, they also showed people who hadn’t had any orientation. But there’s some logic there. If we handed somebody an iPhone, who had never seen one before, chances are pretty good that, after playing with it for a couple of minutes, they’d be able to make a phone call or send a text. And that is typically not the case in [the digital dashboard] space. So [the car companies] have a long way to go here.

RAIN: One of the sessions at DASH represents car dealers.

FJ: I’m really excited about the car dealer session. They’re the ones who are charged with training customers to figure out how this works. It’s the local car dealer you go to when you’re having a problem with your system. They’re hiring specialists, they’re doing classes on Saturday -- it really has changed the nature of the dealership.

The other piece is the way car dealers and their ad agencies are looking to buy local media to build their brands. There is change happening at the dealership level. We think it’s important that DASH represent the car dealer.

RAIN: If AM/FM has the most to lose, pureplays have the most to gain.

FJ: Absolutely right. It’s important that they be there. Pandora jumped right in. We’ve got TuneIn and iHeart. I like the idea of bringing in lots of different players and turning them loose. You’re going to meet people and talk to people that you don’t normally see at conferences. At last count we’ve got 45 speakers -- paneling, moderating, keynoting, participating onstage. It’s a 360-degree view of the connected car. Our feeling is that our attendees will return from this conference with a much deeper understanding of what’s going on.

RAIN: What do you hope will be advanced during the DASH conference?

FJ: The goal is to bring these segments together at one conference, let people work together, talk to each other. The auto companies all understand the value of broadcast radio. They don’t need to be convinced that it’s viable. Broadcast radio needs to show that we care, are engaged, and understand the importance of the space.

What we also hope comes out of this conference is a greater realization of what broadcast radio’s true value is, as content providers. When you talk to automotive people about what broadcast brings to the table, they talk about local, they talk about personality, they talk about community. Yet, at times, [radio] has gotten away from those values. When it comes to the connected car, broadcast radio needs to redefine its value proposition, in an environment where there is increased competition, and commit to its unique differentiating elements. That is long overdue. We believe a conference like this can help accelerate that thinking.

I really think that no matter what your place in radio is, there is absolutely going to be something here for you. Personally, I hope that I have an opportunity to catch my breath, sit in the seats, and take some notes!

Saga's elimination of ad-insertion will help costs and quality, say observers, but more needed to compete online

Friday, August 24, 2012 - 12:35pm

SagaEarlier this week, Saga Communications announced it would no longer substitute "online only" content for the on-air ads on its station's Internet streams (RAIN coverage here). Saga EVP Warren Lada said he's not worried about losing streaming inventory because it's really not that profitable compared to other areas.

Radio Ink editor Ed Ryan reports other broadcasters may be leaning in the same direction. He writes (here), "While broadcasters know they need to be everywhere consumers want them to be, losing gobs of money to be there is not something they signed up for... When you tack on the cost of the technology paid out to make ad-insertion a part of a radio station stream, it adds to the financial headache."

And besides the costs, there's the subpar experience for the listener to consider. "Nothing sounds worse than 7 minutes of Public Service Announcements in a row."

Nothing, perhaps, except 7 minutes of ads, argues Angel Street Capital's Bob Maccini. Especially when compared with the offerings from pureplay competitors.

"This movement if successful will sound the death knell for terrestrial stations that are streaming," Maccini writes on the Angel Street Capital blog. "Given the other Internet radio listening options consumers will not choose to listen to a stream that is running 10-14 ad units an hour complete with some 60 second spots... Stopping ad insertion may save a few shekels in the short run but long term it will have more significant costs."

Instead, Maccini suggests (here) "rather than inserting PSAs and other filler content that music stations insert songs."

Audio Graphics' Ken Dardis agrees that just "regurgitating" over-the-air signals online won't work. "Radio's place online is to use what the Internet offers to expand limitations of over-the-air content. NPR does this in a remarkably successful way. So why do we not hear it being done by commercial radio industry groups?"

Online radioHe continues (here), "The radio industry belongs online, just not in the way it presents itself over-the-air."

Jacobs Media's Fred Jacobs appreciates Saga's move in that it should help improve the overall quality of its streams. "Radio streams uniformly sound like crap," he writes. "PSAs, bad music, comedy cuts, crickets, and other interstitial material has made the customer experience on radio streams a nightmare."

But he also argues, like Dardis and Maccini, that radio's digital product shouldn't just be a clone of its over-the-air signal. Web efforts required a dedicated team. "Treat digital revenue as a separate business and hire reps with digital sales experience."

Jacobs continues, "it’s time to realistically assess what’s working and what’s not. Radio needs to come to grips with the fact that in many situations, traditional radio salespeople cannot take on this effort, and that digital selling doesn’t cannibalize the traditional spot sales effort."

You can find more of Jacobs' thoughts on Jacobs Media's jacoBLOG here and here.

Jacobs Media survey: "High-tech revolution continues" for public radio audience

Monday, July 30, 2012 - 12:55pm

Media usage stats from PRTS4Jacobs Media's fourth annual survey of public radio listeners shows "the high-tech revolution continues," with big growth for mobile device ownership, the use of Internet radio, social networks and other digital services.

The fourth Public Radio Techsurvey (PRTS) found that nearly half (46%) of respondents listen to Internet radio weekly or more. That's up 16% from PRTS3, which was released in early 2011 (RAIN coverage here). Moreover, 18% use Pandora weekly or more (up 17% from PRTS3), while 14% use SiriusXM (up 5%). As for AM/FM, 87% say they listen to at least one hour per day. That's down 2% from PRTS3. 

More than half (52%) of public radio listeners said they own a smartphone -- a growth of 50% from PRTS3. Of those folks, more than 90% download apps. A little under a third of respondents (30%) own a tablet (up 407%). Of those who don't, 37% said they are very or somewhat likely to buy one this year.

Around half say they are able to connect a smartphone or mp3 player to their car and nearly 10% own a car with a "digital dashboard" like Ford's SYNC. That's a desirable platform for web radio -- and a dangerous one for AM/FM to lose -- as 41% of respondents say they do the majority of their radio listening in cars.

PRTS4Jacobs Media's study found "spectacular growth" in Twitter usage, with 18% of respondents using the service. That's up 57% from the previous study. A little over six in ten respondents (63%) have a Facebook profile. All told, 70% of respondents use social media in some way, up from 64% in 2010.

"The data from PRTS4 continues to point to the public radio audience rapidly using new media and gadgets in the pursuit of informing themselves," said Jacobs Media president Fred Jacobs. "Station programmers and managers would do well to better understand the fast rate of adoption, and shape content offerings accordingly."

The fourth-annual PRTS involved 49 public radio stations across the U.S. and more than 30,700 respondents. You can find more information from Jacobs Media here.

Sports radio fans into gadgets and streaming, finds Jacobs Media's Techsurvey8

Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 1:00pm

Techsurvey8"Sports radio fans are highly engaged, into gadgets, and especially likely to be connected via Twitter. They know how to access the sports news and happenings they crave, and they deftly use the available tools."

So found Techsurvey8, the latest study from Jacobs Media and the first to include all radio formats (earlier surveys focused on just rock radio listeners, more RAIN coverage here).

The study found that sports radio fans are more likely to spend most of their radio listening time in the car, where they're also more likely to connect smartphones or mp3 players to the dashboard. "In-car listening is the next battleground," comments Jacobs Media.

Additionally, more than 60% of sports talk respondents own a smartphone and more than 25% have a tablet, found Jacobs Media. They're also more likely to download radio apps and prefer streaming audio on a mobile device.

Sports radio fans are also big Twitter fans. "While Facebook and LinkedIn are popular social media channels, Sports Talk fans lead the league for tweeting," found Jacobs Media. More than 50% follow a sports radio station and/or personality on Twitter.

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