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What’s the Future of Radio in the Connected Car?


What does the crystal ball predict about the future of the so-called “connected car” and radio’s place in it?

That was the purpose of my conversation with Toby Trevarthen, VP Monetization for Aha by Harman, a key provider of platforms and apps to automakers and the “connected” car.

Here are two of the key questions I discussed with Toby:

  1. What will the auto dashboard look like in five years?

  2. What is the role of radio in the future of that dashboard?

We talked about what’s really on the horizon: a reimagining of the car and, more to the point, the time consumers spend in that car. The car will transform from a transportation device with the ability to distract from the drive (thanks to radio in particular) to a playground not just for content but for solutions to problems of time and space. Once the car is aware of where you are and what you need, the car can help get you where you need to go and get you what you want. It’s a vision of the car as a tool to solve problems, not simply a vessel for entertainment, information, or ads.

And where does radio fit? That depends on how radio rises to the challenge. Toby told me no broadcaster has yet gone deep into these potential value propositions – at least not with Aha Radio.

At the very least, Toby told me, the ability to access a radio brand from anywhere has the potential to broaden the audience beyond the signal parameters and provide more engagement opportunities for each brand’s biggest fans.

But consider this: It’s not simply about shelf space in the cars of today and tomorrow. It’s about being on a shelf that solves whatever problem or need the consumer has right now.

Access and distribution are simply table stakes in the connected car.

What will be more important than ever is unique and compelling content (there’s that phrase again), engagement mechanisms that make the brand “sticky,” and value propositions that have less to do with radio per se and more to do with solving the needs and problems of the consumer here and now.

Ponder that one, radio.

But first, watch my Q&A with Aha’s Toby Trevarthen.

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