Are Cars Becoming the Ultimate Mobile Selling Device?


Interesting new interactive apps are being created for our cars. GMC and Buick have integrated Facebook to track and socialize the personalized designs we dream up for their vehicles, while Toyota (screenshot above) is showcasing "car windows as touchscreens that allow passengers to interact with the passing scenery," the Los Angeles Times noted. Meanwhile, Cadillac has an interactive information and sales sticker.

Interactive Car Window Sticker from fusion92 on Vimeo.

"Automakers these days are all abuzz about interactivity, integrating voice-activated calling functions, personalized Internet radio access and a slew of other fancy telematics into the dashboards of their vehicles," the LA Times noted.

We spend a fair amount of time in our cars - passengers tweet, Facebook or go online when possible - or we interact with our cars themselves by watching movies on DVD players, using iPhones, or getting Internet and/or satelite radio. With OnStar and other devices that are factory integrated into them we can monitor maintence needs. This monitoring can also be used to track future sales of both maintenance and new purchases.

As the Financial Times reported in 2001, drivers and passengers spend a significant part of their lives in cars. Europeans are in cars 274 hours per year; in the U.S., it's 541 hours a year. Collectively, Americans spend almost a billion hours a week in their vehicles.

A billion hours a week of advertising time is too big of a potential audience for large-scale marketers to ignore for long. Developments are everywhere and improving daily.

In parts of Europe, the concept was realized from the outside, literally. Companies give people smart cars that are painted with advertising and the requirements are driving the vehicle so many miles a month in populated cities - demographic information of the drivers was used to determine advertisers and who got the vehicles.

But with the new technology there truely is a new space for marketing, one that is a natural inclusion current online marketers should start exploring. All the current online and mobile formats we currently use could also be done on four wheels. Location-based, need level and many demographics can be filtered and bid on for all formats - CPM, CPL, CPA, CPC - the entire C alphabet family.

Tracking could take on all sorts of possible combinations using behavioral and geographic data and interaction decisions and search requests.

I predict a major startup mining rush in the near future with apps for the car. Smart marketers may want to start getting ready soon.

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.