BMW connected cars will not sell data for in-car ads

BMW head of digital products and services Dieter May says that although connected cars have created a new digital platform, the company will tread carefully with the data.

Moderator Randall Rothenberg with Rik van de Kooi from Microsoft and Dieter May from BMW
Moderator Randall Rothenberg with Rik van de Kooi from Microsoft and Dieter May from BMW

Speaking at Dmexco, May outlined how the connectivity of new BMW models is likely to play out.

"The car itself as an object is more integrated with the digital life of our customers, it becomes one digital touch point where you spend a lot of captive and very valuable time," said May. "We are not in the business of selling data so we need to be really careful, but there are real partner opportunities with big brands that fit our premium brand and really drive our business forward."

May believes the prospect of a voucher for a coffee shop popping up on the head-up display of a BMW 7 Series is not fitting with the brand experience of the car and is therefore something "we won’t see".

Microsoft is collaborating with BMW on integrating digital capabilities into its cars through the tech firm’s Cortana personal assistant and cloud computing services.

Rik van der Kooi, corporate VP of Microsoft advertising sales and marketing, talked about how BMW could make all the capabilities and services that are available today "proactive" rather than reactive.

"Cortana or the digital platform learns from your behaviours such that it can optimise your life further, the route, any obstacles on the route, any maintenance related scenarios," said van der Kooi. "If you are buying certain products the car could proactively suggest the easiest way for you to go and get them."

May added: "All these personal assistants are one of the biggest things in the coming years. You can really drive totally new ways of interacting with customers."

The ability to carry out software updates on cars is also expected to extend the product life of the car.

"You keep it fresh across the lifetime and this gives us a lot of different touch points with our customers which we did not have before," said May. "Traditionally you bought it and serviced it a few times and that’s it."

May believes BMW is now behaving more like an internet company such as Microsoft or Google because every eight to 12 weeks it can now add new functionality to its cars through the software upgrades.

He said that as a result the company has had to go through a "big cultural change" in the way it designs and releases new models.