Buses and subways are plastered with ads, and airlines increasingly are finding ways to display ads while you're strapped into your seat. So why shouldn't cars present ads as well?
That seems to be the thinking behind a new General Motors initiative called OnStar Business Driver, an in-car advertising platform that's intended to literally drive you to purchase sponsors' products.
GM says it will be installing the system in more than two million cars by the end of next year. The advertising platform doubles -- or perhaps masquerades as -- an "infotainment center," providing such things as oil level and tire pressure as well as traffic information and directions, according to a report in MediaPost.
And the advertising? Well, of course, it will be what marketers call "geo-targeted," meaning that it will use your GPS data to display ads for businesses that are along your route.
Maybe it will even combine the location data with other information. If, let's say, your oil is old and dirty and a Jiffy Lube looms ahead, the system might bombard you with JiffyLube ads. (GM didn't say that; we did).
Getting to know you ...
Idle speculation aside, your car will soon know pretty much everything about you, or at least the OnStar Business Driver will. It's actually an embedded app hosted in the Salesforce cloud. And since GM knows who buys its cars, the system will have your demographic profile, your home address, and your current location, which gives it a pretty good headstart on knowing whether it should show you ads for the Starbucks down the street or the geriatric care center around the corner.
GM says the system has been extensively tested to minimize distraction, presenting information in small snippets so you can keep your eyes on the road while learning the latest and greatest news from the Gap.
Like a lot of advertising channels, this may prove to be a lot more popular with advertisers than with consumers, but that doesn't mean it won't be a successful business model.