Keys to the Driverless Kingdom: Compelling Content + Top of Mind Awareness

When it comes to disruption, there are two sides of the coin: Risk and Opportunity.

While doom and gloom about the future has become a cottage industry, the driverless car represents a transformational opportunity for radio as we strive to achieve $20 billion in annual revenue by 2022 (#20×22).

In order to fully capture the opportunity of driverless cars, we must first understand that the future is already here.

Although cars will continue to have steering wheels and brake pedals for years to come, the ability to switch to auto pilot on the interstate exists today, as this entertaining 45 sec. video of a 70 year old behind the wheel of a Tesla demonstrates.


At the moment, Grandma is not seeing the opportunity, she is fearing for her life. However, as an industry, this seismic shift in commuting represents a billion dollar opportunity and radio is well positioned to cash in.

According to Business Insider, starting next year, driverless car shipments will experience significant annual growth.


Although this accelerated growth might seem hard to believe, if we look back, the iPhone adoption rate followed a similar growth curve. Even more remarkable considering that shortly after it debuted 10 years ago, we experienced the Great Recession.


Last month at TED2017 in Vancouver, Elon Musk announced that a driverless Tesla would go from LA to NYC before the end of the year and that within 2 years, drivers could fall asleep and wake up at their destination.

Companies including Uber, Ford, Waymo (Google) and Apple are investing billions to expedite the mainstream adoption of driverless cars, ride sharing and other mobility services.

Also worth noting: the 2020 Summer Olympics are in Tokyo, just 3 years away. During the games, the host city and Japanese automakers are planning to show the world a self driving city.

Own the Commute

As drivers increasingly become passengers, they will still commute in isolation, which means the companionship of radio will continue to be in demand.

More importantly, drivers will for the first time have the opportunity to respond and interact in a deeper way with their favorite DJ, something difficult to currently do while operating a vehicle.

Whether Dr. Johnny Fever is doing a live read for an advertiser or he’s asking people to rally around a sick child on social media, commuters will have an opportunity to lawfully and safely interact with your content and one another in real time.

This ability for stations to strengthen the connection with the audience (both with the brand and one another) along with deeper and more immediate interactions during drive time, creates the foundation for radio’s billion dollar growth.

To realize the full potential of driverless cars, Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) becomes even more important.

Before starting their commute, is your target audience thinking of your brand first and most? Compelling content without Top of Mind Awareness is futile.

The challenge of the driverless world is also our challenge today. Radio’s best listeners, the heavy listening Nielsen P1s, spend 90% of their lives away from the radio.

Being part of their life away from the radio is already an essential component of success. With that in mind, here are three ways to generate Top of Mind Awareness and Own the Commute:

Facebook video to jump start the day. People start their day on their phones. A quick daily video by your morning show with a rundown of the show and a preview of the day is great way to generate TOMA.

Gas cards.¬†Radio has been doing free gas giveaways for decades. It’s another great way to generate Top of Mind Awareness among commuters, but let’s innovate this promotion with a data driven strategy that maximizes the impact. Surprise & Delight individual Super-Fans and Amplifiers in your Hot Zips with gas cards.

Coffee and Carry Out. While a gas card fills up the SUV, what about the driver? Coffee for the commute will always be a staple of morning drive. In the afternoons, provide dinner to your best Super-Fans and Amplifier with a gift card from an advertiser.

Best of all, these moments are shared on social media and discussed via Word of Mouth, which is the most effective way to generate Top of Mind Awareness.

The full impact of driverless cars won’t be realized for many years to come, but there’s no time to wait. The fundamentals of the future are the fundamentals of today. Compelling content on-air. Top of Mind Awareness off-air.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO

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