Drive Time Metrics

In a positive development toward a new way of measuring in-car listening, Drive Time Metrics has received a patent for technology which collects, measures and analyzes in-vehicle media usage via software installed in the head unit. The Rhode Island-based company was awarded U.S patent No. 10165070 for its system that provides “anonymous, holistic, multi-source, in-vehicle media consumption measurement and analytics.”

Chief product officer Rob Favre tells Inside Radio the patent applies to the passive collection and analysis of in-vehicle media consumption at scale. That includes AM/FM/HD/DAB radio, satellite radio, stored media such as MP3 and CD/DVD, streaming media, internet radio, audio books, podcasts, audio/video ads, and other forms of audio/video content. It captures content from the vehicle’s native infotainment system or a connected smartphone, as well as apps like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

With more listening done in the car than anywhere else, the vehicle is an ideal location to provide an alternative way to track listening to broadcast radio—and other audio sources like internet radio, satellite radio, CDs and stored music.

Getting data from the vehicles requires the car to have an embedded cellular modem. Right now that’s available in around 12 million vehicles but the number is expected to grow to 95% of all vehicles sold, or roughly 17 million, by 2020.

The information that can be gathered has implications for both programming and sales. “Broadcast radio no longer has to rely on ridiculously small sample sizes or custom one-off reports to estimate audience size or ad attribution,” says Favre, the former GM and chief compliance officer for measurement at Triton Digital. “Agencies can A/B test copy to determine the efficacy of their ads. Labels can examine tune in/outs to new releases, while programmers can determine what the real audience is interested in versus a handful of meter carriers. This technology allows radio to directly compete in the digital world with metrics and analysis that have simply been impossible to reliably and accurately produce.”

The data collection begins once a driver starts the vehicle and continues every 60 seconds until the engine is turned off. Listening data is time-stamped and uses GPS to identify the location of the vehicle, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for audio companies to provide attribution to advertisers. Entercom is a strategic partner with DTM and recently worked with the company and an automaker on a case study involving 30,000 vehicles in a top three market.

"We believe that the large data set derived from vehicles will have a tremendous impact on the quality of audio measurement and ad attribution services, allowing audio to prove its effectiveness,” DTM co-founder and CFO Bob Maccini said in a news release.