General Motors Watches You Listen To The Radio

Technology / 18 Comments

Wait, what?

We're firmly in the era of big data, and automakers across the globe are working to figure out how to transform all the data generated by their cars into secondary revenue streams.

General Motors, for example, has announced it will now begin studying how drivers listen to the radio and other audio while behind the wheel. The automaker's director of global digital transformation, Saejin Park, told the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2018 Data & Measurement Conference that its new data insights will be able to help advertisers craft better ads.


It's a side effect of the 4G LTE WiFi featured in some ten million GM vehicles, which can let passengers peruse the internet, and allow drivers access to apps, satellite radio, while providing OnStar assistance in the event of a crash. However, it can also listen to how you listen to the radio.

"The radio industry and the car industry have been existing side by side … But, really, there hasn't been that much interaction between the two," Park was quoted as saying in a WARC report released on Monday.

GM will be looking at the audio feeds from AM, FM, and XM radio in order to use, and align, radio cues with consumer behavior. The automaker is executed tests of some 90,000 drivers across the Chicago and Los Angeles areas from November 2017 through to January 2018 after those drivers gave permission for their data to be processed in this manner.


GM researchers are able to know if the ad was listened to all the way to the end, or if the driver switched the station mid-pitch. The data is even segmented by vehicles and brands, which allowed GM to build psychological profiles of drivers. Park explained, the owner of a Cadillac Escalade "might be more likely to listen to 101.5. But someone else might be driving a GMC Yukon – same-sized vehicle, but a different brand – would be more likely to listen to 101.1."


"And you can start testing [that] by sending them different kinds of advertising to see some kind of behavior in the [listening] patterns." These are insights that are then quickly shared throughout GM's various divisions. "It's natural for us to reach out to our friends in the Cadillac or Chevrolet [divisions] and their agencies," Park concluded.

Still, GM still isn't entirely sure where this research will lead them, or what exactly it plans to do with the information.


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