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

May 15, 2017

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


20 Years and $400 Billion Later: It’s Still Day 1

April 17, 2017

Amazon is now worth $420 billion with a stock price just below $900 per share, but for Jeff Bezos there’s no time to rest. It’s always Day 1 and this has been his unrelenting mantra for 20 years.

In his recent letter to shareholders, Bezos shared why it’s so important for Amazon to maintain a start up mentality.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”


According to Bezos (see full letter here), the best way to maintain this Day 1 vitality is “obsessive customer focus.”

For Amazon, there are many advantages to being customer-centric, but the best one is “customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied … Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”

Bezos continues, “Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight.”

As a young Vince Vaughn said twenty years ago in the movie Swingers, “You always double down.”

The Desire to Delight Customers

Compare Amazon’s approach, which is even brought to life with the smile logo on the tail of Amazon Prime airplanes with the current state of passenger airline service.

As blogger Gary Leff told The New York Times, “There’s a lot of blame to go around, not the least of which is the overall culture of aviation where customer service issues have become law enforcement issues.”

This wasn’t always the case. Prior to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, “the government controlled airfares and routes, and airlines vied to differentiate themselves with meals and leg room.” Over the last decade, airlines have unbundled services, making checked bags and meals, “pay-per-use options.”

Radio deregulated 20 years ago and in the time since, are we operating more like Amazon or the major airlines?

For the last 10 years, PPM markets have been engaged in longitudinal samples. Yet many stations still arbitrarily restrict winning (and listening) with their contest rules: “An individual may win a Contest or Sweepstakes only once per six (6) month period unless otherwise specifically stated.”

Taking it one step further, some in radio still refer to listeners who demonstrate brand loyalty by regularly playing along with station promotions, as “contest pigs.”

Even before the 1996 Telecom Act, it was difficult for a listener to get someone in the studio to answer the phone. Now on social media, when everyone gets to see in plain sight listeners being ignored by a station, how many questions and comments go unanswered?

The good news is that more and more stations are demonstrating Day 1 thinking. For example, embracing tools like Promosuite Next, which empowers the front desk to Surprise & Delight select listeners as they come in to pick up their prize. These listeners in turn are posting about the great experience with their favorite station even before they get back in their car.

Other clients are using our audience visualization and mapping tools to plan promotions and events that maximize the impact to both core listeners and advertisers.

Best of all, the benefits of providing enhanced customer service to Super-Fans and Amplifiers are self evident and when the necessary tools are provided to empower your team, it allows radio to consistently achieve Day 1 thinking.

From there, opportunities exist to expand Surprise and Delight efforts, which further drive marketing ROI by increasing listening occasions with Top of Mind Awareness.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward with Day 1 thinking.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


Drone Racing League: Fantasy Sport for the Real World

March 20, 2017

When you first hear about the Drone Racing League (DRL) and its $100,000 salaries, you have to double check to be sure you’re not reading an article in the Onion. However, as the facts come into focus, you start to wonder why you never heard of it before.


For starters, founder and CEO Nick Horbaczewski comes from Tough Mudder where he served as Chief Revenue Officer. If that sports background isn’t enough, investors include Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

As a newly minted startup, last year DRL signed a broadcast deal with ESPN and secured a sponsorship with Bud Light. Overall, 28 million people watched the first season of races.

This year, Allianz Insurance has been secured as a global title sponsor and the second season is set to be broadcast by ESPN and Sky Sports into 75 countries. The upcoming season consists of six global tournaments starting in Miami and finishing in London.

This is for real.

According to Business Insider, “The drones reach speeds of up to 80 miles-per-hour … all the league’s pilots fly the same drones, made by DRL.” In fact, “16 pilots will compete in three of the first four races in Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Boston to accumulate league points. The top 12 will go through to the semi-final in Munich from which the top eight will compete in the London final.”

Traditionally, most sports leagues are focused on live events, but that’s not the current model for DRL. According to Horbaczewski, “We’re focused on post-produced content. It’s the most compelling way to see this.”

Meanwhile, CNBC reports that DRL pilots can earn $100,000 per year which allows them to focus on the league full time and potentially become modern equivalents of NASCAR drivers, which is having significant problems of its own with attendance and ratings.

The Connection to Radio

Reading a Sports Illustrated article from earlier this year (they’re as good at securing major PR placements as they are at sponsors), the opportunity for radio came into focus.

“Sports leagues are not companies. They’re ecosystems. In the center of it is this thing called your league. That’s really just the gravitational center, and you need to get an orbit around you, all of these other people. You somehow need to make it all happen at once. You need broadcasters, you need fans, you need athletes, you need sponsors, you need venues. You need to get everyone aligned and rotating around this idea every step of the way … No one of them is enough but all of them together in alignment creates a sport.”

If sports leagues aren’t confined to being companies, then in a similar way, there’s an opportunity to re-imagine radio.

Your station isn’t a frequency on the dial. It is an ecosystem. In the center of it is this thing called your brand. That’s really just the gravitational center, and you need to get an orbit around you, all of these other people. You somehow need to keep it happening all at once. You have a signal, personalities, music, listeners, sponsors, email club, website, mobile app, stream, social media platforms, live events, station vehicles, street teams, charitable fundraisers and contests. You need to get everyone aligned and rotating around the value proposition of the brand every step of the way … No one of them is enough but all of them together in alignment creates an ecosystem that can compete and win in a mobile world.

In our recent column about the Illusion of Infinite Choice, several thoughtful observers raised questions about whether station apps have enough Top of Mind Awareness and stickiness to make them one of the three apps that people consistently use on their mobile devices?

While there are a variety of perspectives to consider with that line of questioning, fundamentally radio has an opportunity to think bigger and more holistically. If stations are an ecosystem, the question becomes is each local brand strong and relevant enough that people are consistently making it a priority and seeking it out across platforms?

This would include engaging with a social media post from the station or even better, engaging with something posted by another listener, opening a station email, listening on-air or to the stream, spending money with an advertiser or attending a station event.

None of these elements are sufficient on their own, but together each one contributes to a thriving local ecosystem that has monetization opportunities throughout.

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


Do You Hear an Echo? Amazon is Fast Becoming an Ad Platform

March 7, 2017

The Amazon Echo has received a lot of attention from radio in recent weeks. First, as a way to increase in-home listening after being described as “Radio’s Next Can’t-Miss Opportunity.” More recently as a theory to help explain how an online stream went to #1 with a bullet in Tampa.


There’s a third angle that is also worthy of radio’s attention and consideration. The role the Echo will play in helping Amazon increase its ad revenue. Amazon’s fastest growing billion dollar division isn’t drone deliveries, it’s advertising. Currently, it’s lumped in as “Other” revenue in their financials.

According to Business Insider, on a recent earnings call, Amazon’s CFO, Brian Olsavsky, agreed that while it’s “very early” to discuss the full potential of ad revenue growth, he acknowledged it was a “good strategy” for the company.

With half of US households already belonging to Amazon Prime, the ability to connect purchase data to ads being served gives them visibility into the full customer buying cycle in a way that Facebook and Google can only dream of.

According to Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of the world’s largest advertising group, WPP, what keeps him up at night isn’t his 3 month old daughter… it’s Amazon.

As reported in Business Insider, “Nobody in the online ad business has more data about the way we shop, how often we shop, and what items we look at and decide not to buy.”

Yet the proliferation of Echo devices also presents a unique opportunity for radio to regain at-home listening after radios began disappearing from households during the last decade.

We can also use this opportunity to be thoughtful about developing a strategy that keeps your station Top of Mind and puts our best foot forward on a device often purchased initially as a personal assistant. Radio has a tremendous value proposition and dominant market share in audio.

Crafting a compelling value proposition for why your station should be Top of Mind for listeners on voice activated devices is time well spent, especially as voice command also becomes more prominent in cars. To get started, drop us a note and let’s talk about how we can incorporate your on-air Can’t Miss Moments and brand position into a compelling message strategy to those who matter most.

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