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Marketers, are you missing a trick by not being in the third space?

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By Jenni Baker | Assistant Editor

November 23, 2022 | 7 min read

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There’s an untapped media channel that presents a unique opportunity for advertisers to engage with on-the-go consumers. Not heard of the third space? Here’s everything you need to know.

Marketers looking to connect with on-the-go consumers need to lead with value and be welcomed along for the ride

Marketers looking to connect with on-the-go consumers need to lead with value and be welcomed along for the ride

Hey marketers, have you heard about the third space? It’s got four wheels (actually, five), people spend a lot of time in it, it gets talked about a lot in the media, and still, it’s probably the most underutilized advertising platform out there. We’re talking about the car, of course.

Transforming from what was simply a form of transport to get people from A to B to a place where experiences happen, the car has remained one of the last digital dark zones for advertisers. Yet as cars become more connected, they are becoming smarter and gathering more data every day. In today’s omnichannel journey, it’s a vital medium for brands to reach on-the-go consumers.

Waze is calling it the third space – and while the third space can technically take multiple forms, ‘it represents both the new state and boundless future of on-the-go in-car connectivity’. In fact, the third space is so important that Waze has dedicated a whole new report for advertisers on why and how you need to build a third space strategy into your marketing mix, and where it’s heading next.

“As cars get smarter and more connected, we’re increasingly expecting in-car technology to match our habits and preferences,” says Ruairidh Roberts, country manager, Waze UK. “Brands have a huge opportunity to personalize in-car experiences that deliver on the needs to create personalized content and experiences to delight drivers and create competitive advantage.”

More than two-thirds of new cars registered in the UK are connected and that number is predicted to rise year-on-year until 2026 when 100% of new cars sold in the UK will be connected. As cars become more integrated with every aspect of consumers’ digital lives, what does that mean for brands and how can they start building a third space strategy into the marketing mix?

Earn consumers’ permission

The relationship that drivers have with their car is personal. It’s an intimate marketing area which requires a thoughtful approach to resonate positively with the in-car audience, and brands must establish implicit permission to be there. That starts with data transparency and clear expectations about how consumers’ data is being used, and assurances that their data is kept private and secure.

Once that is established, brands can start building the relationship by targeting personas in a privacy-compliant way with valuable promotions that lean into contextual relevance. As privacy-compliant, connected car data becomes more prevalent, it will become easier to provide a legitimate value exchange.

“The car is considered a personal space for many, so ensuring brands show up respectfully and don’t annoy drivers is important,” says Roberts. “Marketers looking to connect with on-the-go consumers need to lead with value and be welcomed along for the ride.”

Build frictionless experiences

Now that brands have that permission, they have an opportunity to build frictionless experiences. Drivers expect their car’s capabilities to match – or at least mirror – their phones, and they want the same level of intuitive functionality from marketers speaking to them through third space integrations as well.

To build long-term relationships and optimize conversions, marketers must consider the experience they create and ensure that it is frictionless – whether that’s through voice commands, a minimal number on on-screen taps in a safe environment or features yet to be created.

Experiment and optimize

With the third space foundations in place, marketers can then test their skills in a data-rich environment. Waze suggests three approaches to do this:

Emphasize the new – position your brand as a challenger that consumers need to try for the first time, or build on a new opportunity

Drive them to experiences, not just transactions – give them a variety of engagement avenues, instead of a constant sell, as a path to increased favorability and consideration

Timing is everything – identify patterns in how consumers travel and interact to unlock optimization opportunities and boost return on ad spend.

“The third space is an exciting opportunity because of the exclusive, in-the-moment communication it creates,” says Roberts. “That means brands should treat it as such by offering different ideas and promotions than they may for their core campaigns. It’s a chance for brands who are new to those individual consumers to really stand out.”

As marketers continue to grapple with omnichannel customer experiences, findings new ways to connect all the dots of the customer journey, the third space is the final piece of the puzzle.

“When you think about the opportunities brands have to make their case to consumers, almost nothing tops the intimacy and opportunity of the third space,” says Roberts. “It’s exciting to think about what innovations brands who master the third space will introduce to the world, as they’ll not only be seen as visionaries, but also reap more market share in what is destined to become an extraordinarily important and competitive marketing space.”

For more insights and data on drivers and the short-term opportunities for advertisers, download The Marketer’s Guide to the Third Space: How and Why Brands Must Reach On-The-Go Consumers Through the Untapped In-Car Market here.

Modern Marketing Adtech Brand Purpose

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