Picture this: You’re driving home from work, contemplating what to make for dinner, and as you idle at a red light near your neighborhood pizzeria, an ad offering $5 off a pepperoni pie pops up on your dashboard screen.
Are you annoyed that your car’s trying to sell you something, or pleasantly persuaded? Telenav Inc., a company developing in-car advertising software, is betting you won’t mind much. Car companies—looking to earn some extra money—hope so, too.
Automakers have been installing wireless connections in vehicles and collecting data for decades. But the sheer volume of software and sensors in new vehicles, combined with artificial intelligence that can sift through data at ever-quickening speeds, means new services and revenue streams are quickly emerging. The big question for automakers now is whether they can profit off all the driver data they’re capable of collecting without alienating consumers or risking backlash from Washington.
“Carmakers recognize they’re fighting a war over customer data,” said Roger Lanctot, who works with automakers on data monetization as a consultant for Strategy Analytics. “Your driving behavior, location, has monetary value, not unlike your search activity.”
Carmakers’ ultimate objective, Lanctot said, is to build a database of consumer preferences that could be aggregated and sold to outside vendors for marketing purposes, much like Google and Facebook do today.
Telenav, the Silicon Valley company looking to bring pop-up ads to your infotainment screen, has been testing a “freemium” model borrowed from streaming music services to entice drivers to share their data.
Say you can’t afford fancy features like embedded navigation or the ability to start your car through a mobile app. The original automaker will install them for free, so long as you’re willing to tolerate the occasional pop-up ad while idling at a red light. Owners of luxury cars won’t have to suffer such indignities, since the higher price tag paid likely would have already included an internet connection.
The pop-up car ads could generate an average of $30 annually per vehicle, to be split between Telenav and the automaker. He declined to say whether anyone has signed up for the software, which was just unveiled at CES, but added Telenav is in “deep discussions” with several manufacturers. Because of the long production cycles of the industry, it’ll be about three years before the ads will show up in new models.
of course they bring in the fear factor, they wouldn’t be honest and talk about the profit factor. As soon as people start trying to scare you, you know they are trying to con you.
Auto executives emphasize that data-crunching will allow them to build a better driving experience—enabling cars to predict flat tires, find a parking space or charging station, or alert city managers to dangerous intersections where there are frequent accidents. Data collection could even help shield drivers from crime, Ford Motor Co.’s chief executive officer said last month at the CES technology trade show.
“If a robber got in the car and took off, would you want us to know where that robber went to catch him?” Jim Hackett asked the audience during a keynote in Las Vegas. “Are you willing to trade that?”
You spend huge amounts on a car, I really really don’t want it sending information back to the maker, much less having the maker sell that data!