Apple CarPlay & Google Android Projected Mode: New Car Dashboard Visibility Opportunities for Brands

On March 2nd, Apple announced its entrance into the automotive industry with the new iOS-powered dashboard, CarPlay, at the Geneva Motor Show.  Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will be some of the first brands to integrate the new system.  Going forward, CarPlay will likely be an upgrade option in most makes.

Using Apple’s leading lady, Siri, CarPlay functions mainly through voice commands, but also supports touch.  Apple’s goal is to create a safer way for users to interact with their iPhones in cars—drivers can now send emails and texts, play music, access contacts and use Apple Maps to guide them.  The map feature will anticipate destinations based on past/frequent trips, as well as provide real-time traffic info.

And Apple isn’t alone.  Google recently announced Android Projected Mode, the Android version of CarPlay, featuring Google Maps.  And ABI Research forecasts that new vehicle factory-installed connected car penetration will reach 60% by 2017 (currently, penetration just above 25%).  With Apple and Google now in the space, who will be first to turn cars into giant smartphones?

IMPLICATIONS for BRANDS

The initial application of CarPlay features Apple Maps, as well as three third-party apps: Spotify, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.  But one can only assume that search apps are around the corner.  Apple’s mission—safety while driving—aligns with voice search capabilities to help drivers find restaurants, movie theaters, retailers or dealers.  And in the meantime, drivers will be using Apple and Google Maps to navigate to locations.  In cars, local visibility will be key.  Brands should consider:

1.  Local Data Distribution

Get your local data everywhere!  More importantly, ensure that local data accuracy is managed and distributed to the entire local ecosystem (including in-car maps).  Your retail locations must be visible to in-car searchers.  Additionally, focus on the experience—there’s nothing more frustrating than pulling up to a store location and finding out the address, store hours or product offerings in the local listing were wrong.  Additionally, ensure phone numbers are accurate so that drivers can easily click-to-call your locations for questions or directions.

2.  Local Asset Optimization

Once your location data is visible and accurate, audit your local-mobile experience.  Identify strategies for priming your site for locality by improving on-site page elements, content and architecture.  Amplify your brand experience by enhancing and refining your assets.  For instance, customer reviews are commonly incorporated into maps and local results; focus on outreach to improve/enhance reviews to increase the chances that someone drives into your parking lot.  Optimization will also aid in achieving top visibility in organic search, as drivers are not likely to scroll through multiple listings in future dashboard search apps.

 3.  Targeting & Measurement

Further down the road, we can imagine in-car dashboards that feature ads (search ads, in-stream or maps) hyper-targeted to location.  For instance, advertisers may have the opportunity to target/structure ads based on driver proximity-to-store, as well as time-of-day (e.g. if your store is open/closed).  Advertisers can then engage drivers with location-specific copy, click-to-call or ad extensions the showcase store hours, store reviews or even specific coupons/promotion by store.  Of course, Apple and Google must focus on protecting driver privacy—as tracking car movements opens a host of privacy concerns.  Furthermore, for hyper-targeted location ads to succeed, Apple and Google must make them look/feel like native advertising.

It remains to be seen if Apple CarPlay and Android Projected Mode will catch on with drivers and car manufacturers.  Data plans are also an issue—in the future of car dashboards, other carriers may follow AT&T’s lead in offering the ability for content providers to subsidize data plans tied to specific content usage.  At Performics, we’re excited about the potential new longer-term engagement opportunities that these dashboards could offer brands.  In the short-term, brands should still focus on local data distribution (e.g. listing accuracy) and local asset optimization.  Apple CarPlay or not, participants are still on their desktops and mobile devices looking to visit your store locations; to drive performance, you must be visible!

For more info on boosting local visibility and relevancy, contact Performics today

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