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BMW Says ‘Nein’ To Selling Advertising Directly To Its Customers.

With automakers collecting reams of consumer data from connected cars, it’s not a stretch to think they might consider leveraging it to sell targeted advertising to their customers. Knowing how people drive, when their windshield wipers are on, where they go, what they listen to, and a gaggle of other behaviors could certainly help marketers reach the right consumer at the right time. And with screens becoming larger and more abundant, automakers can reach eyeballs as well as ears.

But one leading automaker is just saying no to selling advertising directly to its customers.

Make that “nein.”

Despite the ever-expanding screens in its vehicles, including an available 31-inch backseat theatre screen, German automaker BMW has no plans to sell advertising on any of them.

“At the end of the day, I think your car is your last private space,” Stephan Durach, the brand's Senior VP of connected company development, told a small group of media members last week during a roundtable discussion, as reported by MediaPost. “It’s where you can do whatever you want by yourself -- you have the right temperature, the music you want. To say I'm selling the screen to play a commercial -- I don't see it. It’s a private space.”

Still, automakers are keen to create a new revenue stream after they sell a car by charging customers a recurring subscription fee for certain features, like heated seats, driving assistant and map updates. BMW was the first to make heated seats a subscription-based extra in its vehicles in some overseas markets. But the automaker scrapped that plan this past fall after customers vented about having to pay a recurring charge to enable existing functions in their cars. 

However, BMW is considering the subscription model for features not expected to be standard in a luxury brand where starting prices range from $39,295 to $159,995. A location-based scent experience feature could deliver a beach-inspired scent when driving by the ocean or scents that would energize the driver while en route to the gym.

But as broadcasters continue to fight to keep radio in vehicles, they won’t be competing with automakers to sell advertising to its occupants – at least in BMW’s case.

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