For Connected Car Listeners, It’s About the Journey — and the Starting Point, and the Destination

By Idil Cakim, SVP, Research & Insights, Audacy

Good morning! So there you are, starting your day. Maybe you’re sipping that first cup of coffee while you read the paper, or packing yet another batch of lunches, or searching for your car keys. And there’s your phone on the counter. It might be bringing you all the talk or tunes from your favorite morning AM/FM radio show. Or maybe it’s your quiet, me-time with your favorite podcast before you start interacting with the rest of the world.

Suddenly, it’s time to hustle the kids off to school, or commute to work for your “in-office” day. You pile into the car and hit the button on the dashboard or connect your phone so you can keep listening to your radio station or podcast without missing a beat.

It’s remarkable how quickly we’ve become such “Connected Car Listeners” – using our vehicle’s built-in dashboard system, or connecting our phones through the car’s digital display, so we can remain relentlessly loyal to our beloved AM/FM radio shows and podcasts, wherever we go.

We were curious about this trend, so we conducted a study1 of more than 1,000 in-car listeners, and the results were, well, music to our ears. We learned that when audiences are listening to AM/FM or podcasts before getting into a car, they’ll most likely continue listening to the same content while driving.

Do they ever shift gears among audio options? After all, today’s listeners can bring AM/FM radio, podcasts, digital apps, and satellite right into their cars. The answer came from our follow-up survey2: Yes, they’ll switch it up, but with its variety, quality of content, and ease of access, AM/FM content still rules the road for in-car listeners – especially for radio app listeners in connected cars.

But wait – there’s more. As cars and devices integrate and advance, the future looks and sounds even brighter. Today, phones mainly drive connected car experiences. However, when asked what type of connected vehicle they would like to purchase in the future, in-car listeners are quick to ask for dashboard access to their audio, followed by steering wheel controls. Increasingly voice-activated features, and, of course, a wider variety of entertainment options will only improve the on-the-road listening experience.

For advertisers, the message is clear. Share of dashboard is the next key metric. While AM/FM content remains #1, you need a holistic audio approach to reach your consumers throughout their day and throughout their platforms. Wherever they’re going and whatever they’re listening to, make sure their drive time is your thrive time.

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1 Audacy Connected Car Study Wave 1, Ask Suzy platform, n=1,008 in-car listeners, September 2021.

2 Audacy Connected Car Study Wave 2, Ask Suzy platform, n=1,033 in-car listeners, December 2021.

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