How the Automotive Industry Will Be Impacted by Marketing Technology

November 1, 2017

Automobile manufacturers are focused on more than just showing off the latest electric car models. They are now doubling down on self-driving, connected cars that can send reams of data to marketers on where consumers are going and what they are doing.


“When we think of digital transformations of car companies, it is this real pivot from burning sheet metal and building motorized culture to selling mobility services that understand and help customers get around,” explained Frank Gillett, Vice President and principal analyst at Forrester Research. “Chief Marketing Officers are investing right now in products and designing things into cars.”


Below is a dive into how emerging marketing technology will impact the automotive industry:


Driverless Deals


No longer are self-driving cars just for the futurists—autonomous vehicle sales will reach 21 million by 2035, according to research firm IHS. Growing interest and new technologies are also helping to spur rival partnerships. Companies that would have not joined forces in the past are suddenly investing billions together to develop new technologies, whether it’s autonomous, electric or hydrogen.


In September, Ford became the latest car maker to sign on to Lyft’s driverless initiative, joining General Motors and Alphabet’s driverless development company, Waymo.


Partnerships such as the Lyft venture are pegged to be valued at $144 billion over the next 10 years, per Accenture and the World Economic Forum’s Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI).


Connected Cars


From streaming music and video to analyzing which coffee shop someone stops at every day on their commute, marketers are getting unprecedented amounts of data from connected cars.


Notable brands have gone all-in on partnering with tech firms like Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto, which turn car dashboards into mini-entertainment centers to include Wi-Fi, music and mobile apps that can remotely unlock your car.


We are just at the starting gate. Data will soon be collected on consumers in connected cars—from how fast a car regularly goes, how many people are in a vehicle and what apps passengers use—and can be layered on top of weather and location stats to decide where to build a new restaurant, for example. Over the next decade, connected cars stand to inject $117 billion into the automotive industry, per Accenture and the World Economic Forum’s DTI.


"There’s also a strong tie between connected cars and loyalty," said Michael Ramsey, research director at Gartner. “Car companies have struggled for a long time with keeping a connection to the owners of the vehicles,” he said. “The dealer basically has that connection and when you have a connected car and you start to offer connected services, you maintain a connection with the consumer after they buy the car. The brands that do that better are stronger.”


Dissecting Data


Perhaps not since the early days of the automobile has the industry undergone such a dramatic transformation, touching all aspects of its business, from design and performance to what leads to a consumer’s decision to drive a car off the lot.


Over the next decade, that customer journey will be worth $263 billion in revenue and efficiency savings (defined as value) to the automotive industry, per Accenture and the World Economic Forum’s DTI. The key will be how marketers leverage their data. Sixty percent of the car-buying process is spent online, but only 32 percent of consumers know what they are looking for when they start their search, indicating that there is a big opportunity for automakers to influence shoppers before they step foot in a dealership, according to research by Cox Automotive and IHS Automotive. After years of keeping data pools separate from each other, brands are developing new ways to mesh mobile, social media and dealership data.


Johnson, Lauren. (2017). “How Emerging Marketing Technology Will Impact the Automotive Industry”. Retrieved from

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