Beginning in 2011, Wi-Fi began being offered in Audi automobiles as part of their “connect” system. At the time, 3G cellular data was offered in their cars, but since then, both the breadth of automobiles Wi-Fi is offered in and the strength of signal it provides has increased. Today, 4G LTE Wi-Fi is offered in various car models by Audi, Tesla, and in General Motors’ Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC vehicles. The availability of Wi-Fi in automobiles is expected to continue trending upwards, and has been estimated to grow from being in 3 million vehicles globally in 2014 to over 10 million by 2021.
On the surface, the practicality of in car Wi-Fi to the average Joe is clear. The availability of a strong Wi-Fi signal in the car will allow for anyone to do anything on the world-wide web, on the go. It provides GPS, internet surfing, real time updates to car software and various other services in your automobile. Under the surface, however, the practical use of in-car Wi-Fi to advertisers, like you and I, may be brewing. The ability to target customers based on information gleaned from the Wi-Fi in their cars may be on the horizon.
As advertisers, our goal is to serve the right message to the right person at the right time! Data taken from individuals’ internet behavior constantly shapes the targeting of digital advertising and Wi-Fi in cars can offer insight into individuals’ behavior that previously could not be accessed. In-car Wi-Fi could pave advancements in digital advertising based on better location-based targeting and insights into daily-habits such as where individuals go, stay, and stop on a daily basis, how long individuals’ are in their cars, what they are listening to, and what kind of vehicles they are driving. All of this data that could potentially be taken from an in-car Wi-Fi signal could contribute to significantly more targeted ads in the near future.
Jason Burby, president of the Americas at digital agency Possible, highlights how data from in-car Wi-Fi can assist in more targeted advertising: “It could give key information about daily habits, such as whether [an individual] stops at McDonald’s every morning or often visits country clubs. That, in turn, could open opportunities for brands to target specific groups of consumers or to target by habit.” Looking at the scenario Burby illustrates for us, the value of this data becomes obvious. Say you are a luxury car manufacturer, and you have this location data gleaned from the in-car Wi-Fi. Having data on who goes to McDonald’s every day versus who goes to the country club every day allows you to not only hone your audience, but target them more directly. Obviously, the luxury car manufacturer would target the country club goers, in this scenario.
In-car Wi-Fi is just beginning to take off and it’s practical nature has car manufacturers and consumers alike committed to its future. With this Wi-Fi will come a swath of data that could prove of immense value to digital advertisers. Though in its infancy, the advertising capabilities that could come with data gleaned from in-car Wi-Fi is a development that could become very important down the road.