It’s press release week – err, I mean CES week – in our industry this week, a time when lots of folks gather in Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, and announce innovative products and projects. I don’t mean to belittle the announcements, some of which sound very promising. But it’s kind of a shame that it all has to be condensed into one week.
In any event, two announcements in particular caught my attention yesterday. First, an announcement by AdsWizz and Aha by Harman, who have partnered to deliver ads. Aha has a strong foothold in the automotive market – in some 50 car models by 14 manufacturers. The AdsWizz piece enables audience targeting based not only on the usual age/gender demographics, but also including location, make and model of the car.
Pandora‘s announcement yesterday concerned similar innovations – rolling out in-car audio advertising that enables advertisers to target listeners who are listening in their cars. Ford, BP, State Farm and Taco Bell are national brands that are targeting Pandora listeners in their cars. More than 4 million unique users have activated Pandora through a native integration in a car.
Streaming audio services continue to refine their ability to deliver ads to consumers with precision, enhancing advertiser impressions by doing so. Increased targetability creates increased value for the advertiser by boosting an ad’s return on investment, and that’s a great place for our industry to focus innovative energy..
HD Radio has made no progress in the last couple of years in terms of raising awareness, according to a recent study by Mark Kassof and Company. In fact, according to the report, “Awareness has actually declined. In ’08, 67% had at least ‘heard of’ HD RADIO; now, 54% do. And consumers’ understanding (and misunderstanding) of HD is virtually identical to what we found three-plus years ago.”
While people who have heard of it seem to understand what it is – that understanding seems to come mostly from the “HD” which – thanks to tv technology, is easily understood as high definition. Very few understand that it is much more than that, more channels and choice, music tagging, traffic and other innovations.
Bob Struble, President and CEO of Ibiquity, the HD Radio company, recently noted that AM/FM radio was the only analog technology on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. He was distressed to note that “AM/FM radio[was] the only analog technology remaining at CES, everything else [was]digital.”
Struble notes that many other industries have already advanced to digital. “Broadcast and cable television, mobile phones, audio and video physical media, … all were analog, now are digital.” Digital technology provides a better customer experience, and that has spurred competition. Automakers were on display in force, thanks to the exciting developments with a digital dashboard.
The reason awareness of HD Radio is so low is because so few broadcasters have invested, adopted and promoted it. Thinking their position on AM/FM dials was secure, they never felt the urgency to spend a lot of money improving the quality of their offering. As connected devices in dashboards become more ubiquitous, radio’s final bastion will be challenged.
There’s a lot of buzz about Internet radio in cars at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Pandora is in the middle of most of it. They have announced a deal with Pioneer that will make it easier for Pandora listeners to use their iPhones to listen in their cars. Pioneer will market a Pandora enabled navigation system that will detect iPhones and iTouches and put the user’s Pandora settings on the nav screen. The system will cost about $1200.
Ford announced several new apps for its Sync connected in-car communication system. Openbeak will read twitter messages while you drive (and enable steering wheel controls like skipping forward or going back). Stitcher “allows listeners to create personalized, on-demand Internet radio stations with news, talk and entertainment programming. Within the Stitcher app, users choose the programs they want “stitched” together, and the app then streams that content to the user’s mobile device. Pandora, according to the press release, is ” the most popular Internet radio service in the world. Users simply enter a favorite song or artist into Pandora and the app quickly creates personalized radio stations, based on that musical style.”
Pandora Founder Tim Westergren told WSJ.com “Maybe a year ago people would have said Pandora is a computer thing, Now, “they’re beginning to realize that Internet radio is an anytime, anywhere thing.”
Good news about Pandora at CES wasn’t just about the car though. Sony is debuting a personal Internet viewer called the Dash, which resembles the Chumby, and enables more than 1000 Chumby apps as well as Youtube and Pandora.