The connected car, or wired car, is changing the way we drive and even the way we view our vehicles. But could it also change the way companies market to consumers? There are already apps that connect cars to smartphones, allowing owners to check things such as tire pressure and other diagnostics. Some even enable the owner to remotely start the vehicle and turn on the heat or air conditioning. This leaves many people wondering, what’s next?
Actually, this is not exactly new technology. In 1997, ExxonMobil launched Speedpass. While it didn’t take off in quite the big way that the corporation expected, it did carve a path for connecting drivers to the Internet of Things via their vehicles. It was even briefly used as an electronic wallet. Maybe the world wasn’t ready then, but that does not appear to be the case now. Today we are more connected than ever, and that isn’t going to change.
Now, put yourself in the driver’s seat, so to speak. Consider the massive amount of data that is captured each time you drive your car. Everything from the route you take, to where you stop for fuel, to what radio station you listen to, can all be used by marketers to find better and more relevant ways to market to you.
This may blow the lid off marketing as we know it. Used car dealers or services like Carfax could use the data collected to generate reports about vehicles that extend beyond the general accident history. They could go so far as report the frequency of maintenance, problems the vehicle has had, and even how the car has been driven. This would certainly take the “informed consumer” idea up a notch or two.
On the road, it could note the route taken and target advertisements to the driver based on location. Is the fuel getting low? The connected car could not only search for a nearby station but also find the best price. The opportunities are almost limitless. With a push of a button, a driver could find dinner, a hotel or coffee — and who wouldn’t want a coffee-locating button in the car?
So, is this something that can actually happen? Considering that the average person has three mobile devices, and the technology is already in the works, the answer is, yes. We are already so connected, the simple inertia of the technological movement will catch our vehicles up in the wave. Right now, we can do an Internet search for an item and receive ads for that same item in our Facebook news feed and email; why not bring our cars on board, as well?
This is just the next step, and marketers need to figure out how to best use it to their advantage. It isn’t a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. The technology is there, so why not?