Rosie Smith, Project Manager, WorldDAB
Radio in the car remains popular across Europe. Drivers see radio as engaging, entertaining and informative. Even with the increase in competitors for share of ear entering the car (Apple car play, Google Android Auto, Spotify etc), ‘live’ radio delivering traffic alerts, local news, weather etc remains the go to for most drivers.
Over the past seven years digital radio has changed from being an option on a small number of high-end models into a must have standard feature in many makes and models in a growing number of markets. BMW is leading the way with standardisation offered across models in the UK, Germany and Switzerland.
The United Kingdom
The UK has seen the largest number of brands offering digital radio as standard including; Audi, BMW, Citroen, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota, Peugeot, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, and Volvo. To date 70% of new cars now come with digital radio as standard and the number of brands offering this is increasing (see table 1).
To engage the auto sector the UK has worked on gaining strong support from government, set out clear plans for coverage, developed a close working relationship with the automotive sector including the SMMT, the UK automotive association, encouraged broadcasters to produce a wealth of new innovative content on digital and put in a comprehensive cross platform/cross public and private consumer communication initiative which specifically targets drivers.
Over time, discussions have been held with auto manufacturers at all levels, technical, commercial, marketing and dealership. These discussions and the support offered by the UK digital radio industry have seen an increase in car advertising which uses DAB as a must have feature. The current Seat FR TV advertising has a clear message that this new model ‘comes with DAB digital radio as standard’ and is very much part of it’s Seat ‘Technology to enjoy’ branding.
Discussions with the auto sector however could not be held in a vacuum and needed to include broadcasters. Cross promotion between auto manufacturers and broadcasters hold the key to promoting digital radio in cars – both embedded digital radio and aftermarket solutions. In 2014, the Absolute Radio Network held a car ‘give away’ promotion of a Peugeot 308. This on-air competition was hugely successful in promoting both the station brand and the auto manufacturer brand. At the time Steve Parkinson, Managing Director, London Radio, said: “With half of our group listening now to digital platforms, we want our listeners to understand that you can now get it in car, so it’s great to be giving away a Peugeot 308 with digital radio as standard to one of our listeners.”
Previous promotional campaigns have also used aftermarket car devices in giv eaways. These again are design to increase brand awareness for the manufacturer, promote digital radio and specifically show that cars already on the road have the option to convert to digital. This summer, a commercial radio campaign will run in two phases in the UK (June and July) with three key messages supporting choice, cars and an upgrade promotion offering a 20% summertime saving off a new car digital radio. The campaign is running on over 100 commercial stations including Classic FM, Capital, Heart, Magic, Kiss and Absolute Radio.
The Australian digital community led by Commercial Radio Australia has worked hard to engage the car industry in promoting digital radio.
Promotions directing drivers to buy cars at specific dealerships show the power of direct ‘push’ selling and the continued power of radio advertising.
Australian broadcasters used a highly publicised launch event of digital radio to give away Toyota cars, working alongside this manufacturer to ensure consumers associated digital radio and in-car.
Today campaigns run on commercial stations which promote digital radio including details of the make and model to ‘reserve your Astra’, further information on digital radio is also included on the dealerships’ website.
In collaboration with the auto industry, Italian broadcasters have worked throughout the pre-launch phase of digital radio on a campaign for the auto industry and for drivers called Muoviti!
Now in the early launch phase, Italy can boast 68% coverage including 95% of highways which will have an impact on the speed of take up of digital radio in cars. Fiat have been quick to use digital radio as part of their communication package and while digital radios alone will not sell cars Fiat realise that digital radio is a small but desirable new feature for car drivers in Italy.
Nissan has also advertised digital radio as part of their ‘Nissan Connect con DAB radio’ on their Qashqai range in Italy.
DAB+ already accounts for more than 60% of all new car in Switzerland. Switzerland has made progress with the auto industry through wide-spread coverage and close collaboration efforts. The Swiss digital radio country marketing organization, MCDT, has developed on-air campaigns and app for in-car to promote digital radio to drivers. Broadcaster led campaigns promoting digital radio in-car have encouraged not only BMW but also other leading car brands to install digital radio as standard or as an option.
Norway is currently seeing the fastest developments in the automotive sector. The announcement of FM switch off in 2017 has led the auto industry to move quickly to accommodate this change.
Promotion to drivers has started to come from all brands with advertising in print, on TV and online. Close collaboration between the broadcast and auto industry is ensuring that Norwegian drivers will not be caught out by the switch and therefore there is a special focus on aftermarket products. Recent drive tests carried out by the NRK, which show the robustness of the current DAB signal compared to the 3G signal on a major road in Norway. The digital radio industry in Norway is also testing car antennas and aftermarket devices for sensitivity.
Comes with DAB+ as standard!
The continued collaboration between broadcasters and the auto industry is key to the future success of digital radio. Each of the European markets is working hard to ensure that at every stage the auto industry is included in discussion on coverage, service following, road tests and possible switch off scenarios. The digital radio industry is allocating substantial budgetary support to the promotion of digital radio in cars. And it is agreed that digital radio needs to be standard in all makes and models to that drivers in Europe continue to enjoy radio.
To facilitate the discussion between members on all aspects of digital radio in-car, WorldDAB has created an Automotive Working Group (AWG). More information on this and updates on digital radio worldwide on the WorldDAB website.