A few years ago I was on a Panel Discussion at the Online Marketing Summit and a question was asked of the panel “What is the future on online advertising ten years from now?” It honestly had marketing managers from IBM and Home Depot a little stumped. But I had an answer. The future on online advertising isn’t on your computer. It’s on your refrigerator, it’s in your car, it’s in the everyday devices that we use have could potentially have a hard drive and a wireless Internet connection.
I’ve been envisioning the car of the future for years, and not in a horsepower or miles per gallon sense. I envision hard drive space, processing power and wireless Internet connectivity as the automotive options of the future. The key to all of this becoming a reality is finding a safe way to integrate computer interaction with driving. The windshield is the only safe place to make this happen, and now it is becoming a reality. General Motors recently released details on an Augmented Reality Windshield.
Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery. In the context that I’m discussing here, it’s using GPS positioning of your location to add to your view through your cars windshield. GM’s motivation is safety, but the potential for location based advertising on such a system is HUGE.
At almost the same time as GM’s announcement and Chinese car manufacturer, Roewe, announced that they will be using the Google Android operating system for it’s GPS Navigation systems. I own both a new vehicle with factory GPS navigation and a Verizion Droid mobile phone with Google Maps navigation. The phone is easier to use and gives a much better navigation experience than the very expensive factory GPS. So it excites me that automakers even have this as a possibility going forward for in car navigation systems.
It would be amazing if GM could put their windshield overlay chocolate bar into the Google Android peanut butter. Collaboration on a joint venture could yield an amazing product and maybe even could bail out GM of financial trouble. Even better if Google could actually buy its way into GM as a stock holder and start innovating GM way of doing business.
The possibilities of an ad platform using the GM technology with an ad platform like Google Adwords are pretty cool. Highway Billboards were a common sight on the nations roadways, until Lady Bird Johnson’s Highway Beautification Act removed them in the mid sixties. Augmented reality could bring them back “virtually”.
Local Business owners could advertise to drivers in the business areas they serve and could serve up billboard ads to let drivers know they are getting close. Searchers could also potentially see user reviews from sites like Yelp as they identify businesses through the windshield screen overlay.
Ford has also been very active in bringing technology to the automobile. They use the Microsoft SYNC system and will soon even give you the ability to follow twitter in your car.
Finally, a twist on an old school marketing tactic, old fashioned radio has a new tact. I am a huge fan of Bluetooth audio streaming with my Verizon Droid phone using Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio Ap. I listen to my favorite radio station KBCO in Boulder, Colorado here in Virginia on my car’s stereo. This Ap potentially turns a local radio station with a cult like following like KBCO into a National radio advertising powerhouse.