There was a bit of a traffic jam at the three-way intersection of radio, big data and automotive in Las Vegas last week. Executives from all three industries used the NAB Show to talk about how they can work more closely together to grow their business.

Radio’s “attribution gap,” first discussed at the 2018 Radio Show in Orlando, continued to be a hot topic at the spring gathering. Jeff Greenfield, COO of attribution measurement company C3 Metrics, made the case that ad budgets have shifted from traditional media to digital giants like Google and Facebook because of their ability to provide greater access to information than radio currently does. Radio is now playing catch up in a media world where advertisers increasingly expect empirical information to show the impact of their ad campaigns. “You’ve got some really interesting products to sell but if there’s no feedback loop going to the account exec” who sold the campaign, radio is put at a competitive disadvantage to other media, he offered during the “Radio’s New Analytics: Understanding Listeners, Delivering Results” panel.

Machine learning is also now part of the advertising ecosystem by “enabling you to look at larger datasets and get to an answer faster. It also provides the capability to do things in more real time” to determine what’s working and what’s not working for advertisers, Greenfield added.

Much like Procter & Gamble rediscovered radio after over-investing in digital, Greenfield made the case that the auto industry is following a similar path, and starting to shift more money back into AM/FM. During the eight-month process that consumers typically take to buy a car, automakers want to track all of the touchpoints the buyer engaged in from exposure to advertising to online search activity. Big data allows dealers to “deconstruct” their media exposure, Greenfield said.

Harnessing first party data that radio collects on its listeners was part of the conversation during the “Fast Tracking Audio’s Future” panel. Beasley Chief Digital Content Officer Lori Burgess detailed how a new experience engine will bring a more personalized experience to its mobile apps for those who have opted in and registered. “The goal is to be able to track and interface with our registered users across all of the devices in which they engage with us, from podcasting to smart speakers and online streams,” Burgess explained. Data on the behaviors of registered users will help the company better understand and monetize its audience.

Likewise, attribution analytics has become “a real growth area” for Hubbard Radio, said senior director of digital sales strategy Steve Goldstein at the session “Digital and Data: From Disruption to Acceleration.” “It used to be about frequency, reach and engagement; now it’s about threading together all of the assets we have with data and analytics to support a campaign,” he said. Data is allowing broadcasters to prove something they’ve long believed – that no medium drives digital traffic better than broadcast, according to Gordon Borrell, CEO of research firm Borrell & Associates. “This idea that data can be linked with proof has become so important,” he said. “Now you’re not just selling more digital, you’re developing new clients that would never have bought broadcast, thanks to data.”

Fueling Next Generation Vehicles

Cars and trucks may still run on gasoline but big data increasingly fuels how auto manufacturers stay on top of what their customers want in their vehicles and how to strengthen engagement with them. John Moon, managing director for partnerships at Honda, said the automaker is using data collected in the connected car to build a one-on-one relationship with consumers. For decades, it was only the dealer that had a relationship with the vehicle buyer, but connectivity is allowing OEMs like Honda to collect all kinds of data to improve the customer experience. “We’ve started looking at the relationship with direct consumers,” Moon explained. “Before, the OEMs thought of it just as the car owners but there can be multiple drivers and passengers and if we utilize the tools that we’ve begun putting into the vehicle, we can start to get a better picture of how to improve things like safety and the type of entertainment, understand what type of content we can provide, and how we can interact with the consumer and do that more on a regular basis.”

Moon used the NAB Show stage to talk about a new rewards program project that promotes driver safety in Las Vegas. In a partnership with Beasley Media Group and auto data provider Connected Travel, motorists who download the HyperDrive Rewards mobile app to their phones can earn cash and points by completing various challenges, including driving the speed limit, no phone handling, limiting rapid acceleration, refraining from hard braking, and driving on off-peak hours. Beasley will promote the app on its Las Vegas stations.

In addition to motivating safer driving, Moon said Honda hopes to better understand how content, apps and rewards drive consumer behavior. The automaker also plans to study the results to see how rewards can be used to drive Honda customers to merchants and “bring new value to our customers.”

Honda has already enabled commerce capability in the vehicle with its Honda Dream Drive, which offers driver and passenger infotainment, commerce, services and rewards. This allows consumers to order food and request and pay for parking through voice activation. “This all generates data about what the consumer is interested in,” Moon explained. “It also can be connected to what they’re listening to.” He said he envisions a way for broadcasters and automakers to use data and technology to evolve their longtime fruitful relationship. “There’s a lot of value to our consumers in what radio provides. How do we work together to improve those platforms? That’s what we’re interested in doing together with the industry.”

Data was front and center during the panel “The Future of Transportation,” where Hector Leano from Amazon Web Services asked, “How do we use data to enhance customers’ experience to build our business?” Radio is certainly doing its part to remain a vital ally, recognizing the tidal shift that technology is creating for all media. Tim Murphy, Entercom senior VP business development, noted, “We have to stay focused on our core audience and local live relevant content—but we also need to build a data infrastructure, to meta-tag every module of content to play the game the way it’s played today.”