Voice Command: Leveraging the Smart Home to Win the Connected Car

April 15, 2019

The combination of smart devices, mobile technology and voice command is changing consumer behavior before our very eyes.

Our homes have become a hub of smart and mobile technology impacting everything from TV viewing to changing the thermostat.  

Radio consumption is no exception. As Bob Pittman mentioned to Caroline Beasley, “Alexa turned out to be the new radio.”

Maximizing the Opportunity

While the internet provides for seemingly infinite capacity, human evolution has not kept pace. We are still limited by how many things we simultaneously pay attention to and create habits around in our daily lives.

As a point of reference, despite more than 2 million apps being available to download, people spend virtually all of their time with less than 10 apps, while their top 3 drive 80% of consumption. Three out of 2 million is the definition of a long tail.


Moving to the physical world, the limits of our mental capacity are alive and well. Research indicates that people across big cities and small towns visit just 25 places in the midst of their daily lives. In addition, despite the ability to have thousands of connections on LinkedIn and Facebook, offline, we only have active relationships with 150 people.

This never-ending digital abundance held in contrast with our scarcity of attention is a fascinating dynamic.

Leading the way in this fight for our attention and loyalty are the companies making the devices, notably Google, Apple and Amazon.

With all the promise of voice command, radio’s ability to generate Mind Share is going to be imperative. Not only is AM/FM radio offering curated, linear programming on a device built for on-demand personalization, but we’re competing to form habits and drive usage against every brand with a voice command strategy.

In addition, when voice commands are given to smart speakers, a single result is produced. Compare that to search results shown on a screen, which include multiple options both paid and organic. That means voice command becomes a winner takes all proposition.

While voice command skills need to work effortlessly, Top of Mind awareness comes first. Either your brand is asked for by name and you win the Moment of Truth or the occasion is lost.

Let’s Keep Our Eye on the Prize, We’re Playing with House Money

When it comes to fleeting attention spans and limited recall, radio’s position as the largest reach medium is a tremendous competitive advantage. People know us and love us.

Smart speakers around the house can be our development sandbox. 75% of radio consumption takes place outside the home. As a result, we can test and measure different voice command strategies that provide an incremental lift with more at-home listening, but the real win for radio will be when this smart home strategy carries over into the connected car and we continue to dominate drive time consumption.

In a world of global brands using chat bots and artificial voices to interact with consumers, radio’s local brands and real personalities will shine even brighter and provide a significant competitive advantage.

When it comes to who’s interacting with your station via voice command today, it’s your existing Super-Fans and P1s. According to Matt Bailey, president of Integr8 Research, “people who do still own a radio beyond their cars are four times more likely to stream a local FM station.” He continues, “Listeners who use radio do so because-they really like radio! … Instead of trying to win over the self-curation control freaks, or conversely the listeners who don’t care that much about music in the first place, radio should seek to maximize listenership from folks who already love radio.”

Further insight in this regard, comes from what we’ve discussed about heavy listeners for years. They give radio 31 occasions per week, compared with light listeners who provide just 7 occasions. As a result, your heavy P1s are the ones being consistently exposed to your smart speaker promotional inventory and email newsletter messages. These are the listeners who know your station inside and out, including their favorite benchmarks and when they air.

Remind them that if they get home early, they can still enjoy their favorite drive time feature, simply by pulling up the station on their smart speaker. Not only are you engaging those employed, heavy listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue, but you’re actually generating more listening occasions. All that practice at home will continue to pay off as the competition for drive time and work place engagement increases.

These voice command insights will also help accelerate the development of habit formation as we acquire more heavy listeners by continuing to grow Mind Share for your local brands and win hard fought listening occasions.

We also know that even your best P1 listeners spend 94% of their lives away from the radio, so as you build momentum on the home front, your investment in an effective off-air messaging strategy related to voice command can be leveraged to accelerate momentum.

In the meantime, not generating sufficient traction with your voice command strategy? We can help drive Top of Mind awareness with those employed, heavy listeners who matter most.

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

Andrew Curran, President and COO