Are Advertisers Coming for Your Car?


New cars undoubtedly come with some slick and compelling features when you compare them to the cars of yesteryear. Remember when power windows were something to write home about?

That said, there are some new car options that have been a little lumpy in their rollout – and none more so than the “infotainment system.” Car makers have been continuing their push towards the biggest and most functional dash screens, but a recent report in the Wall Street Journal asks us to pause and take stock of where we’re at with infotainment… and where we’re headed.

The Wall Street Journal is calling your car’s infotainment system “the last unconquered screen” and suggests a battle is brewing over how they can be used in the future to market new products and services.

Currently, this screen is considered to be the only one where advertisers can’t really reach out – but that, of course, is about to change. A January report on The Drive introduced us to Telenav, a wireless services provider, that’s launching a platform that can deliver location-based ads to a vehicle’s infotainment system. These can be tweaked based on time of day or route but might look like this: you’re approaching a fast food joint around lunchtime, and ad with a coupon pops up.

Whether or not this appeals to the average consumer remains to be seen, but The Drive suggests that, in the future where autonomous vehicles are out in full force, infotainment advertising will be the norm.

But the big question being bandied about is, do the infotainment systems of today provide enough value to even make it worth it? As Gizmodo points out, there is no uniform way that automakers are developing these components and, therefore, they’re often slow and clunky. The Journal also reminds us that the systems are often designed years before cars hit the market and then exist for however long you’re willing to keep your car around. The result can be systems that function in a much less intuitive way than, say, current phone tech, leaving users mixed on their usefulness.

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