Can Radio Win With Driverless Cars? [video]

Can Radio Win With Driverless Cars? [video]

by Tracy Johnson

Ford has a new CEO: Jim Hackett, the head of driverless cars at Ford, is not in charge. Effective immediately. This executive shakeup along with billions being invested by automakers and tech companies alike is indicative of the current sprint taking place to make the driverless car mainstream. Bu can radio win in a driverless world?

To fully capture the opportunity of driverless cars, we must first understand that the future is already here.

According to a Bloomberg report, Waymo, the driverless unit of Google/Alphabet, hired several designers to enhance the rider’s commute, including a ‘user experience’ researcher, who is supposed to help make passenger time in the cars intuitive, accessible, fun and even magical.

Driverless Cars Are Here!

Although cars will continue to have steering wheels and brake pedals for years to come, the ability to switch to auto pilot on the interstate exists today, as this entertaining 45 sec. video of a 70 year old behind the wheel of a Tesla demonstrates. You have to watch this!

At TED2017 in Vancouver, Elon Musk announced that a driverless Tesla would go from LA to NYC before the end of the year and that within 2 years, drivers could fall asleep and wake up at their destination.

The 2020 Summer Olympics are in Tokyo. During the games, the host city and Japanese automakers are planning to show the world a self-driving city.

When it comes to a disruption of this magnitude, there are two sides of the coin: Risk and Opportunity.

For radio, it’s a billion dollar opportunity and we’re well positioned to cash in; if we don’t take our drive time dominance for granted.

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Own the Commute

As drivers become passengers, they will continue to commute in isolation, which means one of radio’s biggest advantages will continue to be in demand:  companionship.

More importantly, drivers will have the opportunity to respond and interact with their favorite air personality. That’s difficult while operating a vehicle, especially with hands-free laws in effect.

Whether doing a live read for an advertiser or asking the audience to rally around a sick child on social media, commuters will have an opportunity to engage with your content in real time.

They’ll also have many other options at their disposal.

TOMA Amplified

To realize the full potential of driverless cars, top of mind awareness (TOMA) becomes even more important. Before starting the commute, is your audience thinking of your brand? Compelling content without TOMA is futile.

The challenge of the driverless world is here today. Radio’s best listeners, the heavy listening P1s, spend 90% of their lives away from the radio.

Being part of their life away from the radio is already an essential component of success. With that in mind, here are three ways to generate TOMA:

Facebook Live

Use Facebook video to jump start the day. Your audience starts their day on the phone. Radio has lost the bedroom. A quick daily video by your morning show with content-based promo of the show and a preview of the day is great way to generate TOMA.

Gas Cards

Radio has been doing gas giveaways for decades. It’s another great way to generate TOMA among commuters. But let’s innovate this promotion with a data driven strategy that maximizes the impact. Surprise and delight individual fans in your Hot Zips with gas cards.

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Coffee and Carry Out

While a gas card fills up the SUV, what about the driver? Coffee for the commute will always be a staple of morning drive. In afternoons, provide dinner to your best listeners with a gift card from an advertiser.


Best of all, these moments are shared on social media and discussed via Word of Mouth, which is the most effective way to generate Top of Mind Awareness.

The full impact of driverless cars won’t be realized for many years to come, but there’s no time to wait. The fundamentals of the future are the fundamentals of today. Compelling content on-air. Top of mind awareness.

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