In-Car Advertisements Must Die Before They Are Allowed To Live

Illustration for article titled In-Car Advertisements Must Die Before They Are Allowed To Live

These days, the biggest buzzword among automakers is "connectivity." Why be isolated in your car? They want you to be connected to your smartphone, to your social media pals, and even to other vehicles. They may even want to connect you with corporations who want to sell you stuff. Get excited about in-car ads!


And by excited, I mean "get ready to kill with fire as soon as possible." I think in-car ads are something we can all agree is a terrible, terrible idea.

Specifically, we're dealing with targeted in-car ads. The Atlantic Wire seems to think they will be the natural conclusion of apps like Dash, which tracks your car's performance in real time after you plug your smartphone into your OBD port. Dash can tell you if you're speeding, if you're too hard on your brakes, and it can notify your emergency contact in the event of a crash.

That's all pretty cool if you ask me. But the Atlantic worries about the other data that can be extracted when your car is being tracked and used by advertisers.

Location data, for example, can then be used by gas stations or other retailers to push out relevant ads. Oh, you drive by that Taco Bell every day, maybe you want to try a Doritos Loco taco? Or a billboard network might use the data to improve its road-side ads, explained Dash Labs CEO Jamyn Edis. Most likely, Dash will sell these data sets to other car related companies, like Experian or Equifax, to use for their advertising.

From there, as Gas2 notes, what's to stop targeted ads from appearing in your car itself? So many new cars come with infotainment screens, why wouldn't we expect to see ads there someday? From their story, emphasis mine:

Imagine driving to work, and as you consider pulling into a Dunkin Donuts for coffee an ad comes over the radio and onto the infotainment screen telling you about the 2-for-1 donut deal they’re having today. As creepy as it sounds, Americans love convienience, and automakers could even subsidize the cost of your car by allowing ads to be played while you drive. With many touchscreen infotainment systems becoming more and more common in cars, we may not have much choice in the matter, and on-board commercials could soon become as common as radio advertisements.


Generally speaking, most in-car infotainment systems suck. Some are much better than others but the bar remains pretty low. Adding advertisements into that will not only be distracting, they'll be supremely, supremely annoying. Imagine a screen that plays that annoying Cadillac ATS ad on YouTube as you're driving your BMW 3-Series. Wouldn't that be fun?


Of course, automakers could give us the Spotify- or Pandora-esque option to pay a an additional premium for an ad-free driving experience. I don't think that's totally unrealistic, but it is really shitty.

Maybe I'm presuming too much. Maybe this is an idea that will never see the light of day. I certainly hope someone has the common sense to kill it before it's ever born.