As the way people get information and entertainment evolves, so too has the vernacular that marketers use to describe that process. Case in point, there has always been a reference to “the screen.” The first screen was television, which held its ground for most of the 20th Century. The second screen was the computer, and a close third in terms of timeframe was the mobile device. In some circles, you’ll hear digital signage referred to as the fourth screen.
But there is one screen on the horizon, arguably the next big screen to wage a war over, that very few have even considered. It’s the dashboard screen. If you’ve sat in a new car lately, you’ve probably noticed dashboards have changed a lot. While these dashboards showcase the usual car performance information like speed, gas, etc., they now include some “communication” elements. The usual elements are satellite radio, maps and navigation systems.
But if you’ve sat in a newer electric vehicle, like a Tesla, you’ll see what most would consider to be a very different dashboard experience. A Tesla is such a software heavy vehicle, it needs a dashboard to match. When you have that level of technology, there comes the opportunity to build on the system to make the user’s experience more unique and rewarding. This, my friends, is what is coming. It’s what some are calling the next screen, and there will be a battle over who owns that experience.
Who’s behind the technology?
Normally I’d say this isn’t that important, but in this case, when you hear the players, you’ll understand why I bring it up. Given that software, cloud-based systems, etc. are not a strength of car manufactures, they’re often turning to outside help. In 2017, Ford hired 400 engineers from BlackBerry Ltd. to enhance its in-house software expertise and in-car digital features. Volkswagen AG has been working on its own system, aptly named vw.os. It should be noted that at one point, VW was in talks with Google about partnering. However, talks took a less than comfortable turn for VW, thinking that Google was probably more of a competitor than a partner. Google’s software, in some form or fashion, is in 19% of all in-car systems currently. And that number is expected to rise. Microsoft is getting into the action by powering BMW and VW cloud bases systems.
What marketing value does this technology posess?
With the mention of Google above, there is obviously a marketing play here. Mobile marketing is a $70+ billion dollar a year industry in the U.S. This new screen brings in an entirely new area of revenue that players like Google will want a piece of. And it will be powerful for both the consumer and marketer.
Recent reports reveal the average American spends 51 minutes in a car daily. Commuting to and from work, running errands, going out to eat, shopping, etc. Armed with deep technology, brands will now have the ability to deliver messages to your vehicle’s dashboard, based on your driving habits. Passing by a convenient store that has a sale on soft drinks? Expect an ad. If you’re like most people, you’re habitual when it comes to travel patterns. And if the car can learn your patterns (i.e. grocery on Tuesday afternoons), expect promotions on milk or pork chops early Tuesday.
This is valuable information that marketers will want to access, and they will pay for it to build a more relevant experience between consumers and brands. Restaurants, retail and gas stations will want it. Consider if that system is tied to your gas tank level. Once you hit a ¼ of a tank, an ad will pop up on the dash for the gas station .5 miles away. Of course this last example doesn’t apply to the EV (electric vehicles) like Tesla. But you get the picture.
While this next screen way be a ways off, make no mistake, it is coming. At Morgan & Co., a media agency, we use advanced audience insight and media strategy to capitalize on those systems for the benefit of our clients. If you manage a brand that is lacking this type of thinking in its media efforts, reach out to us. We’d love to help.