Honda Teams Up Epix To Stream Movies To The Back Seats

What Happened
Backseat passengers in Honda’s  2018 Odyssey minivans can now stream over 2,000 movies from MGM’s Epix network, including the “James Bond” and “Star Trek” franchises, as the two companies announced a content deal on Wednesday. This marks the first time an OTT service is available directly through a connected vehicle’s rear-seat entertainment systems, as Variety notes. However, Honda owners will need to have an Epix subscription through a participating pay TV provider in order to access the content.

What Brands Need To Do
While it remains to be seen whether the partnership will actually result in increased subscriptions for the network, this deal between Honda and Epix could harbinger more similar partnerships between auto and entertainment brands to supply content for connected cars. Research firm McKinsey estimates that connected cars could account for 22% of all vehicles on the road by 2020, which is set to unleash an influx of additional media time and attention that brands can capitalize on to reach consumers. While it is still a few years off till the technology fully matures, smart brands should start thinking about how to conquer this emerging in-car media space now.



Source: Variety


You Can Now Remote Control Your Hyundai Via Google Assistant

What Happened
If you happen to be both a Hyundai owner and a Google Home user, now your car is ready for voice command. The South Korean carmaker announced on Thursday that it has officially enabled the Google Assistant integration with its BlueLink connected car system, as promised at this year’s CES. This update allows owners of recent Hyundai models to remotely control several aspects of their vehicles. For example, users can ask Google Assistant to start their vehicles, set climate control, send directions to the on-board navigation, or unlock/lock the vehicle among other functions.

What Brands Need To Do
This is not the first time Hyundai has integrated its connected car system with a voice assistant. In November 2016, the company extended its BlueLink app to support voice command via Amazon’s Alexa. Now with this Google Assistant integration, Hyundai is further committing to make its vehicles useful with voice-activated conversational interfaces, which opens up new possibilities for them to connect with customers at home. As automakers experiment with smart home device connectivity to expand the reach of their services, other brands should take note and start exploring this space to reach customers beyond mobile as well.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

Source: 9to5 Google

MWC 2017: The AI-Powered, Connected Cars Of The Future

What Happened
Monday marks the first day of the 2017 Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s leading smartphone trade show. As with the previous years, a slew of new mobile and portable gadgets are introduced, and the Lab team is on the ground in Barcelona, Spain, scouting for the latest trend in mobile technologies. Today, however, it is the futuristic smart cars, not the shiny new phones, that stole the show.

Ford announced a partnership with Vodafone at its press event that will lead to 4G modems being built into a select range of its upcoming vehicles in the European market. The modem will bring 4G LTE connectivity over Wi-Fi, with up to ten devices able to connect at once, effectively turning those Ford models into a media hub on wheels.

Moving beyond connectivities for existing models, Roborace drew a lot of eyeballs at the Mobile World Congress today with a stunning self-driving race car. The British company behind the robot racing series unveiled Robocar, the world’s first AI-powered, self-driving electric race car. Powered by Nvidia’s Drive PX2, an open A.I. car computing platform, the Robocar can reach an impressive top speed of 199 miles per hour.

French automaker Peugeot took the AI solution one step further with the debut of its Instinct concept car, an autonomous car designed to drive differently according to reading your mood and needs. The car is connected to Samsung’s Artik cloud service, allowing it to gather data from other connected devices, such as your calendar schedule or your heartbeat rate from a smartwatch, in order to determine between four driving modes: drive boost, drive relax, autonomous soft, and autonomous sharp, to provide the most suitable driving experience.

What Brands Need To Do
In line with what we saw two month ago at this year’s CES, major advances in AI and machine learning has supercharged the race of developing autonomous cars among automakers this year. For brand marketers, AI is what will power the future of brand-customer interactions as the core of the post-smartphone computing. AI evolution is set to bring an influx of additional media time once self-driving cars can free our eyes from the road. While it is still a few years off till the technology fully matures, it is never too early for brands to start thinking about how to conquer this new media space.

Another important capability that AI will unleash for all brands lies in dynamic creatives that can deliver personalized user experience based on data and user input. Brand marketers need to consider how they can leverage their customer data to provide personalized experiences with the help of an AI engine.


Sources: as linked in the article

Jaguar Partners With Shell To Launch In-Car Payment App At U.K. Gas Stations

What Happened
Soon, Jaguar drivers in the U.K. will be able to pay for their gas refills without leaving their cars. The British auto maker announced on Wednesday that it is rolling out a “world’s first” in-car payment system that enables drivers to fuel up their vehicles and pay via the integrated Shell app on the car’s touchscreen dashboard.

Based on Shell’s existing “Fill Up & Go” payment app, the new integrated payment app uses location data to determine which gas station you are at and allows for one-tap authorization through a saved payment method. Jaguar will roll out the app via an over-the-air software update to select Jaguar models starting this week.

What Brands Need To Do
This partnership serves as one recent example of auto brands working to enhance driving experiences with connected services. As connected car technologies continue to mature, auto brands will need to seek out suitable technology and brand partners to build out the services enabled by in-car connectivity. For other brands, this represents new opportunities for them to reach customers behind the wheel and in the back seats by establishing an in-car touchpoint and integrating loyalty programs via similar partnerships.


Source: Engadget

Ford Brings Connected Features To Older Models, Opens Mobility Experience Studio

What Happened
To enhance the connectivity of its vehicles, Ford introduced a new piece of SmartLink OBD accessory that brings retrofitted connected features to its Ford and Lincoln cars dating back to the 2010 models. With a built-in 4G LTE modem, the SmartLink Accessory can serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices in the vehicle. It also enables other connected features including remote start, lock and unlock, and can send alerts to a car owner via a companion web and mobile app.

In related news, Ford also opened its first Mobility Brand Experience Studio in NYC to showcase its vision for the future of transportation. The Studio features various interactive exhibits, with a “kinetic mobility sculpture” that uses marbles to demonstrate traffic patterns as its centerpiece. Each visitor will receive a Ford Hub Card which activates the installations and saves their digital experiences online.

What Brands Need To Do
As developments in connected cars, self-driving technology, and on-demand services continue to transform the transportation landscape, major auto brands are reacting accordingly with a series of initiatives like the two Ford just came out with. One additional implication for brands is the additional screen time that in-car connectivity will bring to customers on the road. And though it is still a few years off before the self-driving technology fully matures, the media time it will unleash will fully transform cars into a media hub on wheels. Therefore, it is never too early for brands to start thinking about how to take advantage of this emerging media space.


Source: TechCrunch & PSFK

GM Launches IBM Watson-Powered Ads In OnStar Go

What Happened
On Wednesday General Motors announced a partnership with IBM that leverages Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities to deliver personalized brand messages to drivers via its OnStar service. The program, named OnStar Go, aims to dispense real-time, location-based information covering topics such as fuel, hospitality, entertainment, and restaurants. OnStar Go is expected to roll out early next year. ExxonMobil, Glympse, iHeartRadio, and Mastercard are also among the first batch of brands to join this program.

What Brands Should Do
This Watson-powered program offers brands a new channel to reach consumers on the go in a smarter, targeted way. For example, ExxonMobil plans to use it to help drivers quickly locate nearby gas stations, and Mastercard will enable drivers and passengers to conveniently authorize payment from inside the vehicle. As connected cars continue to gain momentum in the auto market, brands should seize the opportunity to reach in-car consumers with personalized content through the dashboard and digital channels supported by the OnStar Go ecosystem.


Source: AdAge

Header image is a promotional image courtesy of General Motors

Amazon Pushing Alexa Into Connected Home And Car

What Happened
Amazon has big plans for its voice-activated digital assistant Alexa. The company is seeking partnerships with smart home device makers such as Nucleus to build Alexa Voice Service into their products. This initiative is aimed at positioning Alexa as the central command hub for devices around the smart home space, even the hardware that isn’t made by Amazon. Beyond the home space, Amazon is also actively seeking to integrate Alexa into the connected car. The company has so far established partnerships with BMW and Ford to explore how Alexa can bring voice commands into cars and, in Ford’s case, bridge the gap between smart home and connected car.

What Brands Need To Do
Amazon’s vision of an intelligent assistant is set to push conversational interfaces into new spaces and further infiltrate consumers’ daily lives. In turn, it will give rise to more marketing opportunities for brands to reach customers in cars or at home with branded Alexa skills. As Amazon continues to push Alexa into the smart home and connected car, it is time that brands start working with developers to build branded Alexa skills.

The Lab has extensive experience with building Alexa skills and helping brands navigate the new realities that conversational interfaces are set to bring. If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out and schedule a visit to the Lab. For additional information on how brands can effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, please check out the first section of our Outlook 2016.


Source: New York Times & The Verge


Ford Develops App To Help Everyone Find Parking And More

What Happened
Right on the heels of CES 2016, Ford announced that it has started working on an app that aims to help drivers get around more easily. Powered by its partnerships with ParkWhiz and Parkopedia, the new FordPass app can help users quickly find and pay for a parking spot. Ford also is working with FlightCar to help users borrow and share vehicles while traveling.

Additionally, McDonald’s and 7-Eleven are also among the launch partners to reward FordPass members with “merchandise and unique experiences,” which will possibly translate into providing drivers with coupons and value offers when they are near one of their store locations. The app, set to launch in April, will be available for free for everyone, no Ford ownership required.

Market Impact
In recent months, Ford has been making strides in transforming from a traditional automaker to a modernized mobility company. It launched a pay-per-minute car-sharing service in London in May, and is reported to be developing its own version of Uber. Partnering with McDonald’s and 7-Eleven signals Ford’s ambition in integrating hyperlocal commerce into its app, spelling new opportunities for restaurants, chain stores, and other local businesses to get into the connected car space and reach consumers on the go.


Source: The Verge

Tesla Officially Debuts Autopilot Driving

What Happened
Earlier today, Tesla released the much anticipated version 7.0 of its Model S software, an update that enables the car’s first self-driving features, first announced in October last year. The 7.0 release starts rolling out in the US tomorrow, and will proceed to Europe and Asia in the coming weeks. Although technically not a fully autonomous vehicle yet, the Tesla cars updated with the newest software will gain new features such as Autosteer, Auto Lane Change, and Autopark, all designed to assist drivers.  

What Brands Need To Do
Autonomous cars have been developing at a rapid pace this year. We saw some major car manufacturers showcase prototypes of driverless cars at CES in January. But what Tesla showcased today is definitely more ready for the consumer market. Given this quick development, it probably won’t be long before autopilot driving can free drivers from steering wheels, at least partially. Brands should consider getting onto the in-car media platforms in order to capture this newly-gained idle attention of the drivers.


Source: Mashable

Volkswagen Shows Off Autonomous Car Tech With Semi-Autonomous Baby Stroller

What Happened
Volkswagen has applied their autonomous car to building a semi-autonomous baby stroller. In a video that the German automaker’s Dutch office posted on Facebook, the prototype is shown to have automatic braking and auto-following capability, both enabled by an adaptive cruise control sensor, allowing the parent to walk or run with the stroller, hands-free.

What Brands Should Do
While just a prototype, the stroller presumably won’t be ready for consumer market in years, if ever. Nevertheless, this provides a great example for brands that are looking to find new ways to showcase some of their proudest achievements and innovations that are in development, while reaching out to a previously unreached audience segment.
Source: AutoBlog