It's no secret that cars are becoming more connected to the virtual world (as drivers are becoming dangerously divorced from the real one), and the price of all that connection isn't going to be absorbed by automakers or the companies responsible for providing the technology. The current model for in-car services like OnStar and XM/Sirius is based on the cell phone business plan, which can offer the technology at little or no cost to most consumers while charging for the service. Microsoft, for its part, is considering advertising as a possible income source.
As we all know, Microsoft Auto software underpins the popular Ford SYNC service, which combines the various in-car systems into one somewhat easy-to-use interface. What if they were able to use that system to advertise to you? How would they use it? According to Microsoft's Martin Thall, it looks as though the GPS is probably the best outlet. Imagine driving down the street and having the navigation screen display an ad for Starbucks with some sort of special incentive for pulling in to get a latte, like offering you a free Mp3.
This isn't a wild idea, in fact I wrote about locational advertising for UrbanCartography.com almost three years ago. This is much better than the current model for the provider because charging a monthly rate will, as with cell phones, allow competition to dictate a lower price or more service. There's also a finite, though large, number of customers.
As Google has already proven, there's almost an unlimited amount of advertising revenue to be gotten (if you don't believe me just google "mesothelioma"). As stewards of this technology, we imagine that companies will be responsible and limit the advertising so that it doesn't become ridiculous. Right.... right?