Ilove the way my car handles. It’s tight, easy to steer, takes me from zero to 60 mph in under seven seconds, and stops me better than any car I’ve ever owned. It instills total confidence.
It’s my private sanctuary, my escape from the ubiquitous
shriek of our digital-media world. But that’s only because I
deliberately choose not to use 99 percent of the connected
gadgetry built into the vehicle. It’s my car for goodness sake
— what possible reason could there be for it needing to be
connected to stuff?
Okay, stop judging me, or thinking me some kind of dolt.
I’m fully aware that cars have been connected and intercon-nected to some degree since 1996, when General Motors Co.
shoved its OnStar service into select Cadillacs. Yep, it’s been
22 years. Do you have any idea what’s
coming within the next two?
Advertising, obviously, and more.
But, to return to advertising for a
moment, don’t confuse this with what
mobile apps such as Waze can do with
location-based advertising. That’s not
your car; that’s your phone in your car.
Even if you load Waze into your car’s
system, it’s still not your car, per se.
(Wait, you didn’t know you could load apps into your car? I’ll
let that be a cliffhanger for my next column, perhaps.)
Back to the topic at hand: in-car advertising, delivered
by your car’s connection to the internet. The capability is
already in your car. It merely needs to be activated by the
manufacturer. That’s coming. In all likelihood, you won’t be
able to avoid it, at least not all of it, if you want to use much
of the technology in your vehicle, such as navigation, interactive maps, passenger video entertainment, whatever audio
feed you’ve selected for your driver-only pleasure — or even
essential stuff like your speedometer or gas gauge. Yes, really.
Car manufacturers are pondering how best to force the issue,
so they can mine and monetize our data to profit further from
our purchase of their deeply connected
More Than Profit
But I wonder if, in these monetization
plans, there is any consideration to our
privacy, our safety, and perhaps even our
sanity. (Yeah, I know, I can get a bit melo-
dramatic. I’ll try to tone it down. A little.) As I observe it, we’re
deep into a business cycle that seems to eschew some of the
basic principles of stewardship.
Many businesses exist to make money. I consider that a
goal — an outcome — but not a purpose. Purpose, for me,
is fulfilling some need in the marketplace without causing
harm. My capacity to deliver value while satisfying a need
entitles me to earn a profit from that activity. But when we’re
only in it for the money, our foundation is as weak as sand on
Each advancement of the Internet of Things (Io T) seems
to carry the money-first reasoning that if we can penetrate
someplace with Wi-Fi, we should.
That reasoning is flawed. Change the “that if” to “what
Time Running Out
if,” as in: “What if we do this, what will
be the consequences?” At least then
we’d begin looking at things relative to
how humans will react to them. Right
now, there appears to be no real consid-
eration, except to how friendly the user
interface can be made so that it inte-
grates into the driving experience.
Really? How about this? The driving
experience is: I’m behind the wheel
of a 3,000-pound guided missile, com-
manding a weapon of devastating personal power, and virtu-
ally guaranteed to be more distracted than ever before.
You know the future is already here, right? Don’t be misled
into thinking that we’re still years away from the exchange
of data to/from our vehicles. While it’s still in its infancy, it
could careen into an unwieldy adolescence in less than two
years. Without some common-sense thinking, we’re likely
to experience a parade of unforeseen consequences that will
amaze, mystify, and possibly scare the living you-know-what
out of many of us. Just to make a buck.
I’m ever hopeful that we’re willing to take a breath —just
a breath — and contemplate what we’re
doing, how we’re doing it, and why. I
know we’re all about generating a direct
response for our clients. I’ve been doing
that for decades. I just want us to pump
the brakes and ask ourselves how far we
think we need to go to accomplish our
goals? I’m always open to feedback!
Consider Effects Along With Potential Pro;t
BY PETER FEINSTEIN