Messaging in the Connected Car Must Shift from Visual to Audio

By GroupM Archives
Cover image for  article: Messaging in the Connected Car Must Shift from Visual to Audio

My son just turned sixteen and received his driver’s license last month.  This is both an amazing and scary experience for any parent.  Clearly it’s wonderful because this can free up loads of time otherwise spent carpooling him to practice, study groups or other events. But it’s even scarier for parents today than when I first started driving because of one thing: the mobile phone.

We understand the phone can provide many things to the driver beyond being a communication device.  It can give directions, provide information on food choices, gas station locations and even give the driver a heads-up on traffic issues. Unfortunately, it can also provide distracting messages, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other notifications as well. 

Furthermore, geo-location companies are targeting mobile devices and providing incentive-based alerts, the vast majority of which are visual in nature at this time. If we are to have safety in-vehicle action-based messaging, the balance needs to shift to more audio-based interactive messaging.

How might this work?

An example of a location based visual ad today might read, “Visit INSERT LOCATION between 2pm and 5pm for an INSERT DEAL.”  The ad may have call-to-action that reads, “Remind Me at 2pm” or “Remind Me When Nearby.”  To interact with this ad, you must look at your phone and tap on the buttons to get the reminders.

Here’s how the same ad in audio form might work in-vehicle:

An audio ad might say, “Visit INSERT LOCATION between 2 and 5 pm for an INSERT DEAL.”  The ad may have a call-to-action that says, “Use your vehicle response to set a reminder by saying “Remind Me.”   This action would use the phone’s reminders to set alerts as well as proximity alerts when a consumer gets close to the location.  The reminder would then be heard in your vehicle when either the time or location occurs.  The driver neither looks at nor touches their phone.

Consumers are using voice. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2016 highlighted that voice usage is increasing because of technology improvements and elevated awareness that capabilities exists on devices owned.  She also pointed out that one in five searches on mobile apps in Android are voice, and share is growing.

Although consumers are using voice more, there are still more questions than answers at this point, such as:

  • Would this work only for digital radio or could it also work for analog radio? 
  • Does the phone have to be paired with the car or can the car do this on its own?
  • If the car is paired with the phone and uses the phone’s calendar and location services, does the technical “plumbing” need to be all digital?
  • Can we also leverage non-audible smart tone technology to deliver actionable instructions between the devices?

We don’t need to start from scratch to answer these and many more questions.  We’ve had lots of experience, good and bad, with the evolution from the PC environment to the mobile environment in our advertising community.  We have lots of smart people writing standards that have helped those industries grow their infrastructure, and gain associated advertising revenues.  We need to leverage the work that’s already been done through organizations like the IAB, ANA and 4A’s to help “plumb” the media messaging infrastructure for the Connected Car experience.  Starting now, before it becomes too organized, is the best time to leverage learnings of our past to grow our future.

We need to explore balancing geo-location-based visual messaging with more audio action-based messaging.  I am invested in this topic both professionally, from an innovation standpoint, but also personally, as a parent of a teenage driver.  If we can purposefully innovate in this area, we can have a more specific and robust dialogue about providing feature-rich and safety in geo-location action-based in-vehicle advertising.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of management or associated bloggers. 

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