Content in the Car

Apr 11, 2019


At the Voice of the Car Summit in San Francisco, Calif., held at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center on April 9, content in the car was a major topic of discussion.

It is accepted that the type of content people will want to enjoy in the car will have some subtle differences with the type of content people want to enjoy elsewhere, such as in the home or in the office. The car offers lengthier periods of engagement, with the average commute in major U.S. cities exceeding 40 minutes in length. The car also offers a rare level of consistency, as drivers are obviously making the same drive each and every day. Clearly, cars are of paramount importance to content creators of all kinds, hoping to have their stories and their experiences enjoyed by as many people as possible.

The modern car is connected to the internet, which opens the door for content to be integrated into the driving experience in ways not previously possible. But even more interesting is that the car is emerging as the next big frontier for voice-first technology. Smart speakers have conquered the home, and now they're moving, in different forms, to take over the car and allow for IoT-based continuity to exist between home and vehicle.

The other common refrain is the discussion of autonomous vehicles. While it has become clear the past year or two that autonomous vehicles are a bit further off than we originally thought–the timeframe seems to be within the next five to 10 years–autonomous vehicles will re-shape our patterns as consumers and as human beings over the course of our lifetimes.

What happens as cars get more connected, and as cars become more autonomous?

We reclaim more and more of our time.

The result is that the market has greatly expanded for content in the car. The market has grown markedly for podcasts and audiobooks for this reason, but has also grown to encompass new types of interactive content as well.

Three companies stood out at The Voice of the Car Summit as having innovative approaches to providing new types of content in the car, and are worth learning about:

1) Drivetime.FM — This company's provocative tagline is "play games while you drive." And while that may sound crazy at first, it isn’t. What the company has discovered is that voice-first games in the car—games in which the driver or passengers interact with them via voice—have great potential to actually make the drive safer, rather than more dangerous. If games are the “right” level of interactivity—not too much, but not too little either – then they will engage the car's occupants in a way that will raise alertness while simultaneously keeping the driver from engaging in vastly more harmful activities, such as texting or reading the cellphone while driving.

Drivetime.FM raised four million dollars from venture capital in the last year to pursue a strategy which has been described as a variant of SiriusXM in the car, where subscribers can select from a wide array of games and other content, such as podcasts and audiobooks, from Drivetime's portal. But games will remain at the forefront.

2) Earplay — Earplay has become a leader in interactive audio, creating a wide variety of voice-first adventures for IP ranging from Jurassic Park World to Jack Ryan to Mr. Robot and more. The company has won numerous awards for these interactive audio experiences they've created. These deeply story-driven experiences are rich in narrative, include user choice throughout, and are the type of content that the company is rapidly looking to deploy in the modern connected car.

From the company's website: "part casual game, part interactive audiobook, Earplay delivers a new type of storytelling."

3) Audioburst — Audioburst provides a variety of tools and services designed to provide "personalized audio, on demand.” The company aims to create a "listening identity" for users based on "unique listening patterns, interests, and preferences." This deep level of personalization would then be able to richly impact driver and passenger experience in the modern car, enabling improved access to the full spectrum of audio: music, news, podcasts, audiobooks, and even interactive content such as that provided by Drivetime.FM and Earplay.

With "the world's largest library of audio content," Audioburst has a vast ocean of content to match with users through their algorithmic process. And the company has been successful integrating with Alexa, Google Assistant, and other voice-first ecosystems to extend its reach to the largest number of people.

As a content creator, you're constantly evaluating how best to leverage your existing content in new markets to make more money. And you need to be paying close attention to the car as one of these new markets, and start thinking about how your existing content can be tweaked or modified if necessary to cater to cars. In doing so, learning about these three vanguard companies is a great place to start.


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