Up until now, radio commercials are the only ads that have made it into our cars–but that’s about to change. Mobile advertising company Kiip (a 2013 Most Innovative Company) in partnership with connected-car firm Mojio plans to offer a sponsored rewards program for drivers. Mojio manufactures a 4G telematic device that, according to CEO Jay Giraud, “makes any dumb car a smart car.” The dongle plugs into the diagnostic port of any car made after 1995, then sends and receives data to a user’s smartphone in real time. Drivers with Mojio’s device in their car will receive freebies and discounts for completing everyday tasks like driving to work or getting their car repaired.
Four-year-old Kiip, which counts brands such as McDonald’s, Pepsi, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and American Express as clients, isn’t new to this space. It currently has partnerships with companies like fitness software MapMyRun and productivity app Any.do to tie brand rewards to real-life achievements. As CEO Brian Wong puts it, the company’s advertising model “is less about real-time marketing and more about real-time-needs addressing; using Kiip as a platform lets advertisers do this very quickly and makes it as obvious as possible.”
In an interview with Fast Company, Giraud stresses the Mojio’s open API, which can be used as a platform for smartphone-like car applications. Among the potential target audiences for Mojio-based apps are insurance companies, car repair shops, parking meter and garage operators, and dealerships. The Canadian startup received $2.3 million in seed funding in late 2013.
Both Giraud and Wong have emphasized the fact that the platform allows for relevant, real-time bonuses. For example, if you arrive to the office early or drive past a repair shop, you might receive a push notifications for free coffee or a free oil change. If meeting mileage goals or changing driving habits can be gamified, it offers fertile ground for advertisers.