The Latest Couponing Device: Your Car

GM's OnStar Offers Deals on 3 Musketeers Candy to Drivers

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Credit: Koupon Media

Drivers in General Motors vehicles such as the GMC Sierra or Chevy Malibu featuring the OnStar system can use it for navigation, hands-free phone-calling -- and deals on snacks. The automaker's platform knows what type of vehicle its opt-in users drive, their age range, gender, the current weather and when they are lingering in a traffic jam near a particular retailer. Its partner Koupon Media sends offers from its own convenience store and consumer packaged goods brand partners to the OnStar system.

Late last year, OnStar users were offered a buy-one get-one deal on Mars Chocolate North America's 3 Musketeers candy bars. The offers were displayed in OnStar's AtYourService feature which surfaces targeted deals on dining, retail and convenience store items.

The relationship reflects what's becoming an everyday reality for consumers: more ads in connected things, including their vehicles. Koupon helps GM display offers that can be redeemed using a mobile device, thus easily attributing trackable in-store sales to OnStar ads.

People viewing the OnStar dashboard or a related mobile app such as the MyChevy app can click on offers, which sends the Koupon Media discount to their email. Those can be redeemed using their mobile device.

"We have this really big IoT device with this really big battery -- it's the vehicle itself," said Mark Lloyd, GM's consumer online officer.

OnStar's system aims offers from various partners based on its geographic, demographic and contextual data. For example, a deal on coffee might be targeted to drivers in the morning. The system does not employ any behavioral data, so there is no targeting based on the types of places people have visited, for example.

Ads for the whipped-chocolate candy bar resulted in a click-through rate that was ten times higher than the industry average for a traditional media buy, according to Bill Ogle, CEO of Koupon Media.

"It's really about using the data of the vehicle to match content or coupons or advertisements to the situation of the driver -- the location, how many folks are in the car, what the weather might be and so on," said Mr. Lloyd. "The vehicle is very glanceable," he added. "You don't have a lot of time so you need to make whatever you put on the screen really count."

While convenience stores and gas stations have natural relevance to driving, before GM joined up with Koupon Media, it was difficult for the company to get product-level offers to its OnStar users because products are not associated with locations and addresses, said Mr. Lloyd.

At this stage, GM is still figuring out how best to charge for ad placement. Does a cost-per-driver model work best, for example? The company also is still in the early stages when it comes to measurement, but is interested in being able to track the location points drivers stopped at along the way to redeeming an offer, for example.

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