Mobile on the Move: Google Hits the Gas Pedal

Google just achieved an important, yet surprisingly under reported milestone. When it comes to operating a vehicle, the federal government has approved Google’s application for a computer to equal a human driver.

Google’s goal isn’t to disrupt the car business, that’s merely a means to an end. They want to be a big winner in the Monetization of Things (MoT).  By 2020, annual sales related to connected devices (Internet of Things/IoT) are projected to reach $8.9 TRILLION.

Google hasn’t figured out how to add more hours to the day (yet), but by eliminating the time we spend actually driving, they will have taken a major step forward, which they plan to monetize.

Since the driverless car doesn’t exist yet, there are no established consumer behaviors in this space. It’s truly wide open territory that will create winners and losers for the next 50 years. In-car listening by employed persons is one of radio’s greatest strengths, but that future is far from guaranteed.

The iPhone debuted in 2007 and less than a decade later (even with the downturn of the Great Recession) market share of smartphones already exceeds 80%. If you’re thinking the countdown clock to Connected Cars is still in its infancy, look back to 1996.

While we remember it as the year the Telecom Act deregulated radio, another change took place, which could end up having an even greater impact on our industry.

As reported in Tech Crunch, “onboard diagnostic (OBD) ports, which are located on or near steering columns, became mandatory in most cars made in the U.S. and Canada.” That means 150 million existing cars can already leverage mobile technology not to mention new cars rolling off the assembly line that feature as much computing power as horsepower.

As Warren Buffett and numerous poker gurus have wisely stated, “When you’re playing cards, if you can’t find the sucker at the table, it’s you.”

The Light Outshines the Darkness

With platforms like iHeart Radio, NPR One and Next Radio along with industry conferences like Dash and Hivio, the shift to radio’s future delivery and consumption models is already underway.

That’s important because Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon aren’t here to do radio’s bidding. In fact their best business model, especially with the driverless car is in direct competition with radio’s interests.

Fortunately, we don’t have to allow the driverless car to become an extension of the home, where TV and internet dominate media consumption. The car, no matter the driver, is for people on the move, who are actively engaged with the world around them. Radio is their preferred companion and soundtrack.

As my colleague Doug Smith likes to say, “You’re either positioning the competition or they are positioning you.”

Have you watched the Mad Men episode where Kodak is looking to market a slide projector, but is limited by “the wheel”? Instead, Don Draper unveils the carousel. Give yourself the gift of watching it again or for the very first time.

Now imagine that every day for the next 5 years, instead of your talent promoting Facebook and YouTube to your audience (which helps their bottom line more than yours), those mentions creatively and subtly reinforce the powerful role that radio plays in the life of your audience and offers practical suggestions to generate more occasions, which makes your station even more indispensable, especially as mobile technology and audio platforms rapidly evolve in the connected car.

Radio would leverage its best asset, the relationship with its audience and give itself a powerful weapon in the mobile technology arms race without spending a dime. This would require talking about genuine benefits with powerful storytelling, not trite expressions like, “Radio, the first mobile medium” or “Never less than 10 in a row.”

Radio’s best listeners turn on the radio 31 times per week, while consumers interact with their mobile devices 150 times per day. Radio must have a prominent place on mobile devices.

For our part, DMR/Interactive consistently utilizes mobile platforms, which provide our clients with real time targeting, personalized user preferences along with the unrivaled power of Word of Mouth marketing.

The evaluation and development of new mobile platforms is another key point of emphasis as we green light some, but kill off many more that don’t live up to the hype.

The only thing harder than getting to the top of the mountain is staying there. From our perspective, radio continues to position itself for the opportunities and challenges of an increasingly mobile world.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


One Response to Mobile on the Move: Google Hits the Gas Pedal

  1. spotmagicsolis says:

    It’s certainly not going to help terrestrial radio 😦

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