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Smart Speakers in the Car: Challenge or Opportunity?

Study finds listeners are paying attention to the rise of smart speaker

Listen up when it comes to smart speakers. Because that’s the way a growing number of U.S. consumers are now getting their music and news.

A new study released by the media marketing company NuVoodoo Media Service found that not only are smart speakers continuing to gain a foothold in the market but are now found in a majority of U.S. households — including future iterations that will make their way to the car.

The study (called NuVoodo Ratings Prospects Study 14) found that as of June 2019, 51% of surveyed consumers aged 14–54 across all PPM markets reported at least one smart speaker in their homes, an 8% increase in smart speaker penetration since January 2019.

[Read: Smart Speakers Grow in Importance]

The survey asked respondents to describe how they listen to their smart speakers and found that 42% of respondents said they use the speakers to listen to FM radio, up 3% over a six-month period from January to June 2019. FM radio was listened as the most-listened-to medium of the bunch.

Following close behind was Spotify — 36% of respondents said they have used their smart speaker to listen to that streaming service — followed by Amazon Music (32%), Pandora (28%), audio books (27%), AM radio (19%) and podcasts (16%). In in all seven of those categories, the survey found an increase in consumption from January 2019 to June 2019.

Smart Speaker listening in car
Source: NuVoodo Ratings Prospects Study 14

While there are lots of things you can use smart speakers to do — from ordering online to checking the weather — “They’re called smart speakers, so lots of people use them to listen to things,” said Leigh Jacobs, executive vice president of research insights for NuVoodoo Media Services, noting that percentages are up for every listening category.

“And now smart speaker technology is coming to the car,” she said, alluding to the introduction of the Echo Auto, an aftermarket solution designed to bring the Alexa smart speaker to automobiles. The solution is only being sold to consumers on an invitation-only basis. But automakers are paying attention. Several auto brands tracked by the research and advisory company Gartner in a 2018 auto report noted that they planned to integrate an Amazon smart speaker system into future cars.

“With Alexa in the car, the barrier to selecting FM/AM vs. Spotify vs. podcasts and/or audiobooks is gone,” said Carolyn Gilbert, president and chief executive officer of NuVoodoo Media Services. “If you think of it, it’s usually an easy matter to get Alexa to play what you want. That dynamic presents radio with a real challenge or an incredible opportunity, depending upon what stations choose to do about it.“

The issue will be up for further discussion as part of a NuVoodoo Fall webinar series based on the company’s most recent  ratings prospect survey. The NuVoodoo Fall 2019 Contesting and Marketing Guide will look at issues surrounding contests, promotions and marketing. The next webinar will be Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. ET. Radio professionals can reserve a spot  at www.nuvoodoo.com/webinars.

The new study was fielded in June and represents the opinions of more than 3,000 respondents ages 14-54 from across all PPM markets.

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