I spent the day yesterday (4/11) attending the DASH conference in Detroit, Michigan. It was kicked off by Peter Smyth, the CEO of Greater Media, which operates some great radio stations in this town including WRIF. Peter clearly has a passion for radio, but pointed out that we need to play to our strengths of being local and connected to our communities.
Kevin Squibb from GM was really interesting. He says that GM wants to allow the consumer to bring their digital media to the vehicle. He was asked what radio needs to do to ensure it has a presence in the car moving forward. He responded by saying that their research shows that 94% of the time, the consumer is not in the car and therefore suggested that radio needs to make the consumer want to consume radio both in and out of the vehicle. He feels that any app or device needs to be simple. Kevin went on to say that 98% of all GM products in 2016 (USA) will have 4G LTE WiFi built in, and that the connected car is already a reality.
John Ellis, who consults to the auto industry and others had some sobering comments about where he sees things going. He believes that Apple and Google will own the Dashboard within a few years and that they will push radio either completely out or relegate it to the background. Ellis said that Apple and Google will impact not only radio, but all other industries, and mentioned that Google may offer car insurance for nothing in return for the car owner giving up data that they can use to sell to others. He gave an example that showed the way Google tracks browsing history and indicated that Google could generate over $5,400 a year from one person. Frankly I hope Ellis is wrong because the disruption all this would cause across a range of industries would put a lot of companies out of business.
The most interesting speaker of the day was Mark LaNeve who is VP of Sales and marketing for Ford. Mark loves radio and had some great things to say about how Ford is using traditional media to drive automotive sales. He said that Radio, TV and Outdoor have always been critical to Ford. Mark said “Radio is a great story telling medium, and Ford uses it to launch products and grow brand awareness.”
Marks also mentioned that it was not that many years ago when you could place a television ad buy on four networks and you have it covered. Today there are hundreds of channel and it has become so fragmented. Radio is still great for scale and radio offers a great ROI, and offers customization for geography and demographics. Mark said that Ford’s best months for sales this year were August and September and the only thing that was different about those two months was they kicked it off with a $10 million ad spent on radio and television.
Mark also said that 25% of all tier 2 advertising must be spent of digital at the dealer level, so encouraged radio stations to go in to the local dealers with both a radio and digital solution.
Overall, a good day#1 at Dash 3.0