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Mobile Phones Increasingly a Choice for In-Car Listening

The dashboard is the last place for radio dominance, but connected phones are nibbling at the edges…

By Paul Marszalek

Another nugget from Edison Research’s Share of Ear study: Mobile phones continue their slow but steady creep into our in-car listening habits.

In case you missed it, last year Edison noted that mobile phone listening had surpassed AM/FM radio listening for the first time. Keep in mind, that was not listening to AM/FM radio via a phone, it was any listening – podcasts, Spotify, and radio streams.

But radio’s last line of defense, the car dashboard, continued to be resilient. And while in-car AM/FM listening continues to win by more than a 2 to 1 margin, mobile phone listening continues to creep forward. Yes, those CarPlay, bluetooth, and even aux inputs are in use.

Mobile phones now account for 23% of all in car listening. Radio has held firm over the past three years at about 58%, but it is down considerably from the 71% posted in 2015.

Thankfully, mobile appears to be pulling from “other audio sources,” which probably includes the increasingly rare CD player.

As mobile phones eclipse AM/FM radios, it’s a reminder to stations that their mobile streams need to be easily accessible and top of mind. I cannot recall the last time I heard a station promote its mobile stream. Smart speaker, yes. Mobile stream, rare.

Make sure your mobile app is delivering on the top three things audiences want: 1) a quality stream, 2) playlist info, and 3) upcoming events. You don’t have to do much more than that except talk it up on the air.

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