While automakers and sound designers are working to significantly upgrade the in-car listening experience – including new opportunities for advertisers – the good news is AM/FM still rules when it comes to listening while driving, as reported in Audacy's latest “Advertising Insights” blog.
“We're a long way away from the days when the in-car audio experience simply meant turning up the volume,” Audacy Insights Senior Director Reggie Shah says. “The entire sonic experience of the car is now a priority. Drivers enjoy not just the music but the broader driving experience. With smartphones and smart dashboards, there are more options than ever to customize what we’re listening to when we hit the road.”
That said, radio remains the overwhelming choice of drivers, claiming 87% of in-car time, compared to pureplay streaming options such as Spotify and Pandora (3%), Sirius XM (5%) and podcasts (5%).
According to Audacy's blog, in-car radio listeners can already benefit from advertiser capabilities beyond the 30-second spot. “Seemingly simple improvements like synchronizing radio commercials with visual branding go a long way to improve the listener experience and brand awareness,” Shah says, noting that in recent testing, unaided brand awareness jumped 22 points when ads were coupled with visual in-dash elements.
Additional value-adding brand strategies for in-car audio include interactive commands, where “voice is the new knob,” and in-car payment. “Some brands are beginning to embrace in-ad voice interaction by asking consumers to say ‘yes’ if they would like more information, directions, or a discount” Shah says. “Innovation in the commerce space [also] opens up opportunities for drivers to buy their coffee, pay for gas, and anything else you can imagine from the in-car dash – making in-car advertising even more valuable and actionable.”
Against this backdrop of in-car innovation, the blog reports that more drivers are becoming adept at navigating infotainment systems (a 28% increase vs. 2020), and more are ready for the new world of electric vehicles (EV). “Electric vehicles offer an opportunity for auto brands to play with the sonic experience of a car in ways never before fathomable,” Shah says. “Electric vehicles naturally emit much less sound than the cars we’re used to, which opens up the opportunity for automakers to manufacture the car’s sound – not just for the safety of pedestrians and other drivers, but also to brand the driving experience.”