Connected Vehicle Data Will Revolutionize Audio Industry

This post is the latest in our “Driving Local” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of August, including topics like autonomous vehicles and the car as the ultimate “local” mobile device. See the rest of the series here


The advent of “connected” vehicles has created an exciting opportunity to utilize data collected from a vehicle’s infotainment system for application to the media industry, including for advertising-related analytics.  

In 2018, there were 276.1 million registered vehicles on the road, and 17.3 million new vehicles sold in the U.S. Approximately 30% of vehicles sold in 2018 had an embedded cellular modem, providing wireless connectivity and enabling data to flow to and from the vehicle (think IoT).  

There are already around 15 million vehicles on the road in the US with an embedded cellular modem. The research firm International Data Corp (“IDC”) projects 90% of all new vehicles shipped will have built-in cellular modems by 2023. Vehicle connectivity enables important safety, convenience, and diagnostic features, and is also a pre-requisite for electric and autonomous vehicles. Almost every vehicle manufacturer (OEM) now manufactures vehicles with connectivity built in at the factory.

The connected vehicle story is similar in Europe, Asia, and other world markets, providing an exciting opportunity for global in-vehicle media measurement.

Drive Time Metrics, Inc. (“DTM”), is working across the global automotive industry to collect media consumption data (currently mainly audio listening) from vehicles that have embedded cellular modems. The infotainment system (think minicomputer) installed in a vehicle controls the audio and video consumed (including radio, satellite radio, streaming, podcasts and MP3s), and the latest systems have the ability to log media consumption data. The cellular modem allows for the transport of this data out of the vehicle over cellular networks (e.g. Verizon, AT&T).  

Automotive OEMs have bulk data plans with cellular carriers primarily for collecting vehicle diagnostic data (e.g. mileage, engine warnings, etc.). As a result, it is now possible to capture data from millions of vehicles. This presents an opportunity to capture  exponentially larger audio data sample sizes, especially for AM/FM radio, which will fundamentally change audience measurement, ad attribution, and program insights. While data today is primarily audio listening, the introduction of autonomous vehicles will result in significant consumption of video that can be measured in a similar way to audio.  

Americans spend 100 billion hours in their cars, traveling 3.2 trillion miles each year. What was heard in these vehicles during all of this time? Seventy percent of all Americans (13+) listen to audio in the car and 54% of all listening to audio occurs in the car according to Edison Research Share of Ear 2018. Previously, there was no ability to measure in-vehicle audio consumption.  

Now, listening to any source can be measured, including AM/FM/HD radio, streaming/internet radio, satellite radio, podcasts, as well as content from a smartphone (connected via USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto).  

Data collection is in near real time, typically with data transmitted from the vehicle at the end of a journey. Vehicle data can be married to demographic and other third-party data sources to create a number of products highly useful to the media and advertising industry:

  • High Level Insights- For example, how much time listeners spend with AM/FM radio versus Sirius XM vs. Pandora/Spotify by day/week/month and time of day.  
  • Audience Measurement – what stations and audio sources are being consumed such as time spent listening, number of sessions including traditional audio metrics (AQH, CUME, etc.) by market.  Station ranking by market by metric by time by demographic.
  • Ad Attribution –data can determine if an ad was heard in a vehicle.  Since broadcast radio is a one way medium, previously only the fact that an ad was played was known.  With vehicle data it can be determined that the ad was actually heard, and also if a vehicle that heard the ad drove to the advertiser’s location. Comparison of the vehicle cohort that heard the ad with the cohort that did not allows ad lift to be calculated. In addition, frequency of an ad response and time of day ad impact can be examined.
  • Ad/Music Intelligence – Tuning among sources can be determined down to the millisecond.  The precise tune in/tune out time can be identified, as well as A/B testing for different ad creative. Ranker of songs/artists/podcasts and other audio programs by time of day/week/month can be created.   
  • Audio Programming – Data regarding what song/artist/content are being consumed, time of day and tune in/tune out can be utilized to improve programming
  • Brand Intelligence – Brick and mortar locations can utilize information from vehicle store visits as well as to those of their competitors.  Matching in store purchases to advertising heard in a vehicle could result in a true ROI on ad spend.

Privacy and security of vehicle data is critically important to OEMs and their customers and is subject to strict protocols to ensure effective data anonymization and security.

Analytics of in-vehicle media consumption will have a game-changing impact on the quality of audio delivered to a vehicle, improving consumers’ experience and enabling advertisers to better understand the importance of the audio industry today and video industry tomorrow. That will, in turn, generate positive results for brands.

Bob Maccini is a founder and CFO of Drive Time Metrics, Inc. (DTM) which collects and analyzes media data collected from vehicles.  Prior to DTM Bob was a founder of Ando Media, Inc which developed the first platform, Webcast Metrics, for measuring internet radio.  You can reach Bob at Robert.Maccini@drivetimemetrics.com

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