US advertisers find new way to connect and distract drivers image

Mobile marketing firm Placecast and in-car streaming audio service Aha Radio are demonstrating a new concept that could become the next big thing for advertisers that want to reach consumers when they are most open, or if you prefer most vulnerable, to their message.

The concept functions like this: you’re on your way to work and notice your stomach growling. No problem. An ad for the local McDonald’s has popped up on your navigation screen. Later that day, as you head home, a different ad pops up, this one with a coupon for your favorite take-out pizza parlor.

The partners are running a nationwide pilot this month with sandwich shop Quiznos as their first advertiser.

“We are excited about the opportunity to deliver relevant, value-added experiences for consumers in the car,” said Alistair Goodman, CEO of Placecast. “We have seen strong results for this kind of marketing in the mobile arena, and we expect to see positive consumer reception to this extension of localized offers into cars.”

It’s called location-based, in-car advertising and it takes the marketing capabilities of the Internet to the next level. First came the banners and billboards, which randomly popped up, on your computer screen. Advances in tracking technology has allowed a service like Google Adsense to better target what ads you might see and when. But mobile advertising promises to not only deliver ads that should appeal to a particular consumer but also to ensure they come up at the best possible time.

Using so-called geo-fencing technology, a restaurant could, for example, deliver an ad and coupon in the evening when you’re within a 10-mile range.

Consumers are today bombarded with advertising from the moment they wake up until the moment they turn the lights out at night. Motorists already hear a stream of commercials on their car radios and watch as the billboards fly by.

Until now, however, they’ve largely been spared the ad intrusion on their in-car infotainment systems. But as this technology rapidly proliferates – Ford, for example, just built the 10 millionth car equipped with its Sync system – advertisers have been positively salivating at the opportunities this presents.

The critical difference between a location-based approach and conventional advertising is the ability to precisely target consumers as they move about – and the technology can be adapted for both a car and for a smartphone handset in the pocket of someone walking through a mall or downtown shopping district.

Consumers could actually help hone the service by storing coupons and selecting favorite stores or restaurants that would automatically pop up at the appropriate time and place, explain location-based marketing developers.