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Suppliers Stepping Up Internet Radio Promos


Internet radio will play a key role in the
promotional plans of select car audio suppliers and
retailers in the coming months now that the technology
is hitting mainstream price points and becoming
available in a broad selection of head units from key

Alpine, JVC, and Kenwood will give Internet radio
a prominent role in their planned promotions,
and Pioneer already has. Suppliers such as Alpine
and JVC are also stressing the technology in their
regional dealer-training meetings to further stimulate
sellthrough. For their part, many retailers have begun
to emphasize Internet radio on their web sites,
social-network feeds, and other advertising venues,
suppliers said.

The promotions could boost the fortunes of pureplay
Internet radio stations and services. Consulting
company FutureSource said streaming through
smartphone apps already “accounts for around half
of listening hours for pure-play [Internet-only radio
stations and services].” Because 70 percent of conventional
radio listening in the U.S. takes place in
vehicles, the company said, the “increasing use of smartphone apps, connected devices and the march of
mobile broadband are all key to a sustainable future [for
pure-play Internet radio].”

To boost awareness, JVC is making its iHeart Radio
app for iPhones the centerpiece of its fourth annual Turn
Me On online video campaign, which will be co-promoted
for 52 weeks beginning in May on the web sites of
hundreds of radio stations owned by iHeart developer
Clear Channel, which operates more than 750 stations.
Clear Channel stations will also promote contests in
which JVC and partner companies Gibson Guitar, Pearl
Drums, and energy-drink supplier Monster Energy will
give away products, said Chad Vogelsong, JVC Mobile’s
marketing GM. The partner companies will also promote
the video.

With a “massive amount of partners,” Vogelsong said,
the new campaign will gain a lot more visibility than previous
online video campaigns, which have nonetheless attracted
a cumulative total of more than 35 million views.

JVC will also promote the app and video on its Times
Square electronic billboard, an in-app ad in the iHeart
app, and in print media.

The app and video, which will appear once again
on male-lifestyle web site

, will also
be promoted on the web sites of musicians appearing
in the video. They include Lita Ford, who launched
a solo career in the 1980s after playing with Joan Jett
and the Runaways in the 1970s; Candlebox lead singer
Kevin Martin, whose band became famous in the 1990s;
Puddle of Mud lead singer Wes Scantlin, whose band
rocketed to fame in the 2000s; and Rich Luzzi, the lead
singer of the up-and-coming band Rev Theory, Vogelsong

The musicians and video will take consumers through
four decades of car audio technology, music, and clothing
styles, Vogelsong said.

JVC is also preparing in-store POP materials for the
iHeart Radio app and for Full Power’s Motion X cloudbased
iPhone navigation app, which displays maps and
turn-by-turn driving instructions with voice prompts on
JVC’s large-screen in-dash A/V head units.

At Alpine, the company plans to advertise its expanded
selection of Pandora-ready head units and supply in-store
materials, said a spokesperson who declined to provide
details. The company is also conducting hands-on demonstrations
during its 12-city training tour to help dealers
promote and demonstrate the technology.

“In 2010, we were the first to market with an integrated
Pandora-ready head unit, the iDA-X305S,” the spokesperson
said. “We were pleased with its success and how
it raised awareness for an integrated, head-unit controlled
Pandora solution in the car.”

For its part, Kenwood is creating in-store marketing
tools that use QR codes that users scan with their smartphone
to access additional information about Kenwood’s
Internet radio technology, said senior VP Keith Lehmann.
The codes access video demonstrations, explain how to
connect a Pandora-equipped iPhone to the radio, and
how to better enjoy the experience through upgraded amplifiers
and speakers, he said.

Competitor Pioneer expanded its selection of Pandoraready
offerings to nine models starting at $150 and has
run ads on Pandora’s web site and and iPhone application
through March 3 to coincide with Verizon’s iPhone
launch. The campaign exceeded expectation, said Ted
Cardenas, marketing director for Pioneer’s car electronics

To supplement the Pandora ad campaign, Pioneer created
the Barry series of videos for its consumer website
and for viral distribution on Facebook. The series of ads
features an audiophile named Barry, said to take his passion
for sound quality too far.

Other Pioneer marketing activities include in-store
POP and on-board feature tags for retailers as well as
heavy PR outreach to automotive and consumer media.

For now, Audiovox plans no special Internet-radio promotions
because it offers only two Jensen-brand head
units that control a Jensen-provided iPhone app that accesses
more than 35,000 Internet radio stations. But the
company will discuss potential promotions later this year
with dealers when it launches it first couple of Pandoraready
Jensen-brand head units in the next six months, said
Audiovox Electronics president Tom Malone.

Malone also expects promotions from suppliers and
from retailers to pick up during the summer and grow from
there as this year’s expanded selection of Internet-radio
head units get shipped to dealers.

For now, most Internet-radio is occurring at the grassroots
level by dealers promoting the technology on their
web sites, social-media feeds, and ads, Malone said.
Retailers already promoting Internet-ready head units include
Mickey Shorr’s and ABC Warehouse, said JVC’s