Every minute for three months, GM secretly gathered data on 90,000 drivers' radio-listening habits and locations

On September 12th, GM's director of global digital transformation Saejin Park gave a presentation to the Association of National Advertisers in which he described how the company had secretly gathered data on the radio-listening habits of 90,000 GM owners in LA and Chicago for three months in 2017, tracking what stations they listened to and for how long, and where they were at the time; this data was covertly exfiltrated from the cars by means of their built-in wifi.

The company says it never sold this data, but the presentation to the advertising execs was clearly designed to elicit bids for it. Toyota has promised not to gather and sell telematics data, but GM seems poised to create a market in data gathered by your car, which can listen to you, follow you, take pictures of you and your surroundings, and even gather data on which passengers are in the car at different times by tracking Bluetooth beacons from mobile devices.

Saejin Park, GM's director of global digital transformation, the report said, explained that by matching audio feeds from AM, FM, and digitally driven XM radio,GM plans to study the alignment between radio cues and consumer behavior.

"We sampled (the behavior) every minute just because we could," Park explained.

The report said GM considered station selection, volume and ZIP codes of vehicle owners.

Here's what GM learned, according to Park:

The owner of a Cadillac Escalade large SUV might be more inclined to listen to a radio station that is different from someone driving a GMC Yukon, even though that also is a large SUV.

"Even in this world of crude radio-station entertainment, different types of people listen to different stations in different kinds of vehicles," said Park. "And you can start testing (that) by sending them different kinds of advertising to see some kind of behavior in the (listening) patterns."

The study did find a pattern created by drivers during such events as rush hour, the middle of a storm or, she said, the day after Thanksgiving. "Everybody's at the mall, and from one vehicle to the next, their radio choices are consistent."

GM tracked radio listening habits for 3 months: Here's why [Jamie L. LaReau/Detroit Free Press]

GM's data mining is just the beginning of the in-car advertising blitz [Andrew J Hawkins/The Verge]

(via Four Short Links)