March 6, 2013

In-car apps: A new opportunity for digital marketing?

Written By Martin Sandhu

From desktops and laptops to smartphones and tablets, it’s given marketers the chance to reach their customers in much more intimate ways and personal environments. Perhaps the one consumer safe haven has been their cars, but not for much longer…

Two years ago Chevy launched a ‘Cruze’ which had the capability to read your Facebook newsfeed to you whilst you were driving. At the time it was launched, it was seen as a novelty rather than something which would become the norm. Since then, there’s been little more in the way of in-car technology, with the exception of sat navs. But now both Ford and Volvo are taking the lead.

Volvo has teamed up with Spotify to bring the music streaming service to their new fleet of cars. It’ll be available through the Sensus Connected Touch system, which will allow drivers to stream music (via a 3G/4G dongle or a mobile phone connection) through their dashboard. The system can be either touch or voice-activated, with the driver being able to play music simply by saying the name of a song.

The Sensus isn’t just for Spotify though, currently the Android-based system will also run Google Maps, iGO-powered GPS navigation and TuneIn. Obviously, the opportunities for in-car apps are very different to those for mobile devices – it’s unlikely that drivers will start browsing ecommerce apps whilst stuck in a traffic jam – but the technology undoubtedly opens up some interesting prospects.

Another car manufacturer also exploring internet enabled in-car technology is Ford, and it’s already  proving to be an appealing option to buyers. Jack Bergquist of information company IHS says “Ford has categorically stated that this is selling more cars for them and over 50% of consumers would be swayed by the presence of an internet-capable device.

Bergquist estimates that by 2014 all big brand cars sold will offer some sort of internet connectivity.

Exciting times. Watch this space.