ARN boss Ciaran Davis warns rivals to beware of smart speaker privacy

Staff Writer

Australian Radio Network chief executive Ciaran Davis has a warning for the radio industry.

In an interview with Sydney Morning Herald reporter Jennifer Duke, Davis challenged fellow media executives not to repeat the privacy shortcomings of major platforms like Facebook.

The comments come as smart speakers continue to penetrate Australian households, creating legitimate and concerning opportunities for media to collect data from listeners.

“Smart speakers have brought radio back into the home … We’re moving from one [station] to many [listeners] to one to one,” he told SMH.

“It’s important that we don’t – as an audio industry – make the same mistakes as Facebook … and make sure we are concerned with privacy.”

According to the 2019 Australia Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report, 80% of Aussie smart speaker owners use their devices monthly and over 46% (or 2.6 million) use them on a daily basis.

The report was published by Voicebot and digital agency FIRST in March, and also found that Google Home has established 68% market share. That’s well ahead of Amazon’s Echo with 14%.

The relationship between media organisations and big tech, namely Facebook and Google, has been one of love and hate.

Love because these platforms unite audiences and create opportunities to promote content and recall. And hate because the Big Two tech companies are pulling more and more revenue away from mainstream media, and making more dollars from the very content that’s placed on these platforms by media outlets.

The duopoly has also been the subject of an ACCC inquiry in recent months.

In a statement sent to media following the release of the Digital Platforms Inquiry report, Commerical Radio Australia chief executive Joan Warner welcomed the findings.

“We’re pleased the report recognises action is needed to address issues of market power and regulatory imbalances between the digital platforms and Australian media businesses,” said Warner.

“The recommendations are comprehensive and will take time to work through, but overall it’s a positive outcome for consumers and the local media industry.

“Greater transparency into how digital platforms operate in the advertising market will only be good for the wider industry and all Australian businesses making investment decisions on advertising expenditure.

“The radio industry looks forward to actively engaging in the 12-week consultation process.”

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