The Social (Media) Car, A New Way to Monetize Car Safety Regulations

Last year, our lives got out of control. The pandemic made us change our behaviours. Some of us were quarantined, other were not allowed to see family members or meet friends.  At times, our homes felt like our prisons and our freedom of movement, restrained. For everyone’s sake, we gave up control; but what if there was a way to get it back? Control not the event itself but the way we react to it? Starting with rethinking the way we perceive what a true home could and should be like. What if #stayhome didn’t mean #stayput rather #stayinyourcar and #workfromhome would actually be #workonthego?

Our car could be our home away from home. The cars we’ve always seen as a means of transportation and nothing more has the potential to become Oldenburg’s third place of living.

Connected Radio

Sounds ludicrous? Try shifting your perspective, and by doing so, the perception of your consumers, as well. The sociologist’s characteristics of a third place are only reasonable, after all: warmth/comfort, possession, and belonging to which I would add, safety.

Today’s cars check those boxes, one by one. Comfort is easily created through immersive sound, entertainment, design, high-quality materials, massage seats, ambient lighting, and other add-ons. Possession(s) are thankfully mostly portable nowadays. With a couple of adaptors for charging or wireless charging pads, occupants can take full advantage of their devices, from the ubiquitous mobile phones to work laptops.

The challenge, until a couple of years ago, was to convince consumers that cars can be as safe as their homes or even safer.

How do you make safety desirable?

In 2018, European road users perceived tired driving as a frequent crash cause (74%), with drivers in Austria, Finland and Greece having the highest odds ratios for self-declared fatigued driving. Of all drivers that participated in a survey in eleven European countries, 44% felt very tired but continued driving because they felt they had to.

In response to this reality, the European Union and other European regulatory bodies have taken several measures.

In-car infotainment

On one hand, the EU is considering making in-cabin cameras mandatory for drowsiness and attention detection with subsequent system warnings prompting the driver to resume normal, attentive driving. On the other hand, during the year of the pandemic, Euro NCAP, the ultimate safety rating system for cars in Europe, updated their assessment regulations to include driver monitoring as part of safety assist.

It has, therefore, become apparent that automakers will soon have to install cameras in cars to comply with law and significantly decrease the rate of fatigue-related car crashes. Their added expenses during the deployment of this technology, however, will not be covered by an increase in sales. Contrarily, customers could be inhibited by the presence of a camera in the car as it almost implies a loss of control through a psychological loss of privacy.

The question is: how do you turn an indisputable need into a want and a purely rational incentive into an emotional one, that ultimately drives the purchasing decision?

By shifting the perspective, yet again.

Instead of “taking” something away, you can give customers a bonus, and a hefty one at that. The computer vision solutions designed for in-cabin monitoring can do double duty.

On one hand, they can provide safety, while offering the kind of entertainment we have learned to expect in recent years.

In other words, you have the ability and opportunity to turn cars into the third place, for the jobs of tomorrow, for the digital content creators of today and, why not, the digital nomads to come.

Building the social (media) car

By 2030, the global digital content creation market is estimated to reach $38.2 billion, a growth that has only been aided by the current pandemic. Lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, the lack of offline events and the decrease of traditional sales interactions have only strengthened businesses’ need to grow their digital footprint.

Content creators are more in-demand than ever before and social media platforms, bigger and more diversified than in recent years.

A lot of car buyers have a social media presence and are on the hunt for followers. In this context, carmakers have the unique opportunity of building the social (media) car.

augmented radio

Offering customers an alternative to dangerous texting, calling, photo-taking while driving is just the tip of the iceberg.  

Next-gen in-cabin monitoring solutions will transform the car into a mobile photo-booth. Taking selfies with preselected filters can be done through the car’s camera system and uploaded to Instagram. In-car Instagram Stories can provide a refreshing angle to content creators and change the #instagame.

Heavy TikTok users, one of the rising social media platforms of late, could use their car as a production set. With no need for extra gear, expensive action camera setups or complicated camera mounts, video recording can be fast, fun and out of the box. Road trips could become perfect opportunities to create memories and, why not, strengthen their online reputation.

Possibilities are endless. For podcasters and karaoke fans, a personal vehicle can be turned into a recording studio with a host and one or more guests. Why not do carpool karaoke just as well or better than James Corden?!

The perfect way to monetize the connected car

Consumers would eventually discover that the feeling of belonging associated with the third place can be found in each of their cars, as their social interactions are not limited but enhanced by them. In the long run, digital nomads who left their traditional homes for four-wheeled ones could find in these solutions the missing piece for their wandering lifestyle.

Carmakers will find the way to monetize the connected car. By enabling outstanding experiences and facilitating human connections in what will likely be the social car of the future, you have the power to fulfil your consumers’ wish for an immersive, connected tomorrow and build revenue streams from none other than the safety hardware imposed by current regulations.

Interested in how we can help you build that connected tomorrow? Learn more about us, here.

Gereon Joachim is working in the automotive industry for 26 years now, and has been making car rides more enjoyable and safer ever since. He spends most of his time innovating, and thinking outside the box to create the extraordinary experiences customers are looking for. He is still looking to buy a Porsche 912 from 1969, so it matches the year of his birth.