Marketing The Potential Of The Connected Car

With Samsung’s recent purchase of connected car firm Harman, the fight over who’ll lead the connected and autonomous vehicle market is hitting the fast lane. This development could prove a great opportunity for marketers to take advantage of the change in behavior these vehicles will create.

When we drive today, all our time and attention is spent focussing on the road and controlling our vehicle. Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles will change this. Drivers will become passengers and won’t have to concentrate on the road. There will be an opportunity to capture drivers’ attention spans on the road that didn’t exist before, and marketers should take advantage of this.

It is worth noting that connected car firm Harman works on the technology that enables cars to become self-driving; that is, being able to connect a car to the internet. But it will also provide in-car entertainment systems which is where marketing can play a part. 



Cars will soon be an extension of our living rooms. When getting from A to B, we’ll be looking for activities to do during the journey. With our cars connected to the internet, we’ll be able to browse and shop online, watch TV and post on social media. With little else to do, passengers will be more receptive to marketing messages they receive while being driven — especially if those messages are targeted according to their journey and location.

A couple being driven in their self-driving car to a romantic weekend getaway could be given tips on local restaurants and things to do when they arrive. Using location and journey data, you may be able to determine that they left their home a few hours ago, may be getting hungry and therefore offer them information and promotions from a nearby service station. On the way home, the hotel they were staying in could ask for feedback as they surf the internet or offer a discounted stay if they re-book during the journey.

Another potential play for marketers is in creating mobile apps specifically for autonomous vehicle passengers. Apps that can be used or played according to location, much in the style of Pokemon Go, could increase passenger engagement with marketing messages as they travel. 

Connected car data could also be used by marketers and advertisers to understand who is likely to drive past a certain billboard. Tracking location data over time can tell marketers if a person takes certain routes at specific times of the day. Marketers can then choose where to place outdoor advertising campaigns and when. Mobile apps can also complement this by encouraging passengers to engage with billboards through games as they drive by. High engagement on these ads will show that the campaign has been effective, and vice versa.

The free time that connected cars will provide drivers and passengers should be used by marketers to provide targeted and personalized messaging. Nothing turns a consumer off more than irrelevant and ill-timed marketing. Marketers will have a good opportunity to engage with consumers on an entirely new medium that audiences will not have switched off from yet. 

There will be a certain novelty to self-driving cars in the beginning, along with a sense of prestige. Marketers should tap into that and make the content served through connected cars feel exclusive to the passengers of that car. There is a great opportunity for marketers to really rev up their campaigns through using connected vehicles. Those to take advantage of our self-driving futures will find themselves miles ahead when other marketers are trying to play catch-up.

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