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Touchscreen Car Dashboard

Marketers, start your engines: connected cars & advertising

Date Posted: February 7, 2018Reading time: 3 minutes

The year is 2018. And although it seems like we’re still nowhere near the Jetsonian age of the flying car, we are seeing some incredible advancements in the automotive sector. In fact, just a quick scan through the latest tech and auto publications makes it clear that the road to the future will be paved with some pretty serious tech. Like cars that can sense impending collisions and brace themselves for impact, onboard vehicle-to-vehicle sensor systems that allow cars to chat traffic together, or perhaps most anticipated of all, rides that can—relatively reliably—keep themselves between the lines with little to no human input.

But what does all this innovation mean for marketers? Quite simply, your car might soon be able to serve you more than just radio ads. Even though we’re still a few years away from truly autonomous vehicles having a spot in every driveway, today’s cars are already quite connected, and that opens a world of advertising opportunities for many brands. But we’re not talking random pop-ups and big boxes on your dashboard display, we’re talking about data-driven in-car ad platforms aimed to deliver relevant content to each user—errr—driver. So, what does that look like? Picture this. You’re driving to the beach on a hot summer day and your vehicle knows exactly where it’s headed. So, it serves up a few relevant ads, like, where to pick-up sunscreen along the way (in case you’ve forgotten, your car hasn’t) and which drugstore has the best deal on cold drinks. Running low on fuel? This platform will even point out the nearest gas stations with the best fuel prices. Helpful? Potentially. Intrusive? Perhaps. But as far as distraction is concerned, according to Telenav, this kind of tech will do its best not to hog the driver’s attention, only displaying ads when the vehicle has stopped.

And Telenav is far from the only company vying for a piece of the connected car pie. Recently, a slew of major auto brands—from BMW to Volkswagen—have announced partnerships with companies like Amazon and Microsoft to develop AI voice-assist technology, with brands like Ford taking things even further, allowing drivers to order from Starbucks with the help of Amazon’s Alexa. Even GM has embraced the creep towards connectivity with the launch of Marketplace, an in-dash platform that lets drivers order coffee, make restaurant reservations, and find gas stations all through a car’s touchscreen.

However, Amazon and Microsoft aren’t the only ones cashing in on connectivity. This fall, Adobe announced plans to help marketers reach drivers. This new service aims to help marketers by using an AI feature called Sensei to collect user information behind the wheel. Everything from music selection and nav data, to voice commands are within reach of Adobe’s Sensei, and by extension, marketers.

With big brands, automakers, and marketers alike are all doubling down on connected driving experiences, it’s safe to say that the days of simply turning the dial to skip an annoying offer or jingle are long behind us. But it’s still early days for this emerging marketing opportunity, and brands will likely have to tread lightly in order to offer true value to consumers instead of purely intrusive, opportunistic brand moments to sell more coffee. But I know what you’re thinking: “yeah, when cars fly”.


Andrew Auld is a Copywriter at Trampoline. Want his help finding the right words to get your message across? Get in touch at [email protected]