Will cars be the next brand experience platform?

The Secretary of State for Transport believes that fully autonomous vehicles will be on UK roads by 2021, Auto Express reports.

While we may have to wait three years until self-driving cars join us on the roads, today’s vehicles are more connected than ever before. Whereas radio used to be the only in-car entertainment, Adweek argues that marketers are keen to capitalise on this heightened connectivity, transforming cars into the next “media and marketing platform”.

Cars will become a platform in their own right

For cars to become the next brand experience platform, you need to shake your view of vehicles being merely an extension of phones and laptops.

Cars now have so much technology, and marketers and brands should utilise this to deliver more useful experiences to drivers, rather than just showing ads on the dash. This could, Adweek predicts, come in the form of showing localised ad buys on maps, ad-sponsored charge-ups for electric vehicles, or even brand-subsidised Wi-Fi.

And these opportunities seem only set to grow, as car makers are working to install cars with the same technology available to consumers in their homes and on their smartphones.

At last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, auto brands such as BMW, Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen revealed they had partnered with Amazon and Microsoft to bring voice AI systems into vehicles, aiding drivers with tasks from turning on lights to opening garage doors.

But this in-car tech could be used for more than just helping drivers. And Ford has already clocked on to this, enabling drivers to use their car’s built-in Alexa to order Starbucks.

Head of advanced engineering at Ford, James Buczkowski, explained: “We don’t want to distract drivers. We don’t want to annoy drivers, but we do want to create value for consumers, what they need and when they need it.”

In-car technology provides brands with another platform to interact and engage with their target audience, because consumers are still consumers when they’re behind the wheel. But how can marketers make sure they’re providing drivers with valuable and relevant brand experiences?

Making use of data

As auto analyst at Gartner, Michael Ramsay, notes, marketers will need to subtly connect with drivers, reaching them at the right time.

While cars might not be a conventional marketing platform, they can still provide marketers with insightful data. And work is already being done to ensure there is better use of this data.

The IAB’s Connected Car Working Group has been investigating how data can be collected from the car’s communication with the manufacturer. Meanwhile, Adobe recently released a platform that enables marketers to analyse users’ driving habits and target in-car audio ads through its AI platform, Sensei.

As in-car technology advances and vehicles become even more connected, marketers will not only have more opportunities to engage with consumers in their car, potentially opening them up to new audiences, but they will also gain access to more consumer data, enabling them to deliver localised and relevant marketing messages. But this platform will not be about bombarding them with adverts; instead it will focus on providing drivers with valuable brand experiences.

Looking to the future, technology will inevitably open up new platforms to marketers, but it could also create obstacles along the way. If you’re facing a marketing challenge today, give Fireworx a call.