The Next Big Experience Platform Is On Four Wheels

by Amit Ahuja

posted on 09-13-2017

Digital experiences used to be much simpler, during times when consumers were heavily reliant on desktop Web and the only other channel of any importance was the physical interaction. The emergence and eventual dominance of smartphones created great complexity, to the point where most brands still struggle today to deliver the right experience. But for many marketers, their customers have already begun to embrace new interfaces such as voice and the screens inside of their cars. Expectations—set in large part by the very best smartphone apps—are on the rise, and it has become table stakes for experiences to feel consistent and more personalized to individual tastes. With an ever-growing slate of new screens, brands are under increasing pressure to deliver. But despite these challenges, the cup-half-full perspective will tell you that new touch points amount to new opportunities. With competition for consumer attention hotter than ever before, brands now have new areas to engage and drive loyalty.

The car in particular, presents a unique opportunity to connect with customers, in a space where they already spend a bulk of their time; data shows that the average driver spends 55 minutes each day behind the wheel, with about 1,500 trips made every year. As the automotive industry grapples with sliding profit margins from cars, they also see the upside from the data and software in the car itself. Several key trends are moving this along; for starters, infotainment systems are improving and have a greater number of supported apps. At the same time, the big leaps we’ve seen with voice technology means that drivers now have an interface that better guards against distractions. Coupled with advancements in driverless technology, the car is becoming an attractive space for consumers to enjoy their favorite digital services. Whether it is a music streaming app, a recommendations service or an app from the car maker itself, brands can leverage the connected car to extend their presence, give customers really great experiences and gain a first mover advantage in an important emerging space.

Before brands dive in, they ought to look back at the last major technology shift (e.g. smartphones) for a few important lessons. The struggles that mobile marketers still face are the same ones that could plague the car. For example, at the point when smartphones became must-have devices for consumers, brands rushed to deliver a mobile presence and many ported over their existing desktop experience. This was done with little consideration to the nuances and potential of the mobile form factor. As brands develop the in-car service, this can be a guiding light. They must find hero features that leverage everything from location data to voice-driven interfaces—creating distinction that makes services indispensable. Another lesson is the importance of breaking down silos. As new data flows in—via behavioral signals in the car—it must complement existing data sets from channels such as desktop web and the smartphone app. This will give brands the means to engage customers as people, not channels or devices. Customers will feel that the brand understands them and respond better to the experience and promotional offers.

Consider an in-car recommendations app; By considering various behavioral signals in the car and across other channels, the brand can deliver a relevant dinner promotion that is along the driver’s route. An automaker on the other hand, can leverage the infotainment system to develop a more meaningful on-going relationship with the driver. Through data, they can deliver more personalized experiences that build brand loyalty and serve various offers down the line that will better resonate.

To help brands navigate the complexity that comes with the connected car, Adobe has introduced extended automotive-focused capabilities in Adobe Experience Cloud. In Adobe Analytics Cloud, measurement capabilities have been expanded so that behavioral signals such as voice interactions can be captured, and brands can begin to better understand the experience of drivers and passengers. In many cases where consumers expect and value a more personalized experience, these insights can inform the content that brands deliver through Adobe Marketing Cloud and Adobe Advertising Cloud.

The complexity of digital experiences will continue to increase, as emerging interfaces begin to mature. Desktop and smartphones will remain key channels, but brands need to ensure that everywhere they show up holds the same high standard. It only takes one bad experience for consumers to begin considering other services. For most brands, new touch points always present a level of risk, but the upside is much greater for those who can get in quickly. With data insights as a foundation, successful brands take on the spirit of constant iteration, adjusting the experience and content as better customer insights become available. As we look towards the connected car and elsewhere, the careful execution of these various pieces will ultimately define success and failure.