Connected cars: your car is about to become your best friend

Ever evolving technology often – in a modern, consumer-centric world – begs the question of the opportunities each evolution presents to advertisers. 

Technology has allowed marketers to open up landscapes once thought impossible to harness effectively. One such landscape that is frequently overlooked is the potential to be found within cars. 

Samsung recently announced they would be paying $8bn for connected car firm Harman, in the hope that investing in a new market sector will help them recover from the catastrophic month of exploding phones. So what was it about this tech that inspired Samsung to pour all their cash into acquiring Harman?

A Harvard Health Watch study suggests we spend an average of 101 minutes per day driving (Still about an hour less than the product-placement-packed Transformers film franchise). Which equates to about 4 years and 3 months of driving over an average lifetime. Outside of radio, it’s relatively secluded from advertising, aside from roadside hoardings (which are more city-centre-focused).

Within industry speculators, there is a notion that by 2030, up to 15% of cars could be autonomous. Tesla, Apple and Google are all experimenting with the idea presently, whilst Uber are in the early stages of rolling out self-driving taxis (albeit still with an overseeing driver) in major urban areas.

When a driver becomes a passenger, app usage within the car will increase, meaning in-car entertainment as an industry will grow significantly, meaning apps will likely develop car-friendly versions. That's an extra 101 minutes of customer interaction for brands. Speculators are foreseeing that soon there'll be a freeway of driverless cars communicating endless advertising messages to consumers everywhere we go.

An idea that could potentially lead to and go beyond this is that car manufacturers would provide a free, on-demand taxi service for customers. This would be funded by ad-space on the outside of the car, and potentially within the app used to hail said taxis.

Cars are a very personal space, which is partly why car sharing can be a very unappealing idea for a lot of people. As the saying goes, one man’s BMW 5-series is another man’s Vauxhall Vectra. People need to be able to trust and enjoy the space they’re putting themselves in.

However, if the service is free and passengers take to the idea, the scope is potentially unfathomable. Imagine a digital wrap around the car that could change its display depending on the time of day or the location it’s in and thereby the demographic associated with it. Heading to work down a motorway in the early hours might be opportune for Starbucks to tempt commuters with an early morning coffee, whilst Madame Tussaud’s may be interested in some guerrilla marketing in other touristy areas of London, looking to attract some sightseers at a loose end.

The large costs associated with running a car may therefore end up only being spent by those with a love for driving and their cars. If this means the world of luxury cars looks set to grow in the coming years, companies such as Porsche are doing it right by offering their ‘Connect Plus’ option with cars such as the 911 and Panamera. This means your car can be personalised through your phone, with your own music choices, destinations and contacts available hands-free through Siri or Okay Google. Apple's ‘CarPlay’ is also set to be a major player here, allowing users to use all of their apps hands-free during their journey. With a few words uttered to Siri, you could be driving home for Christmas with Bublé blasting through your speakers and a pizza ready for collection on your way home.

Whatever happens, I’m so excited for my car to become as personal as my phone, and whilst Optimus Prime still remains a fantasy for now, the possibility of having a conversation with your car is becoming less far-fetched every day.

Written by Emily Hale and Andrew Thomson