Delivering Internet audio to the car is hard. Everyone on the "Dashboard Discussions" panel, which led off yesterday's RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas, agreed on that.
So far, implementations are all unique and different, and it's expensive to work with carmakers. Entercom Director of Digital Operations Amy Van Hook (top right) explained that's why her company is sticking with aggregations like TuneIn, or Entercom's mobile apps, to connect to cars for now. Chia-Lin Simmons, Aha by Harman VP/Marketing & Content, said it can cost a million dollars to get integrated into the car "head unit." Moderator Roger Lanctot of Strategy Analytics verified that automakers make hard to "scale" integrations.
But it's incredibly important to be in the car. Broadcasters can't walk away from this vital listening "theater," and newer audio sources need that audience to grow. jacAPPS president Paul Jacobs reminded the crowd that the car is both radio's number-one listening location, and carmakers are radio's number-one client...
So what are the strategies? Simmons' company is trying to bring the interactivity we've learned to expect from the desktop and mobile, in a safe way into the vehicle. The data her company collects can help content providers like webcasters better program, and better target ads. Rohling's TuneIn is also working at ways to help broadcasters monetize streams outside their local market.
But it's still that "local imperative," Jacbos said, "that makes radio important."