August Focus: Local’s Next Battleground is Your Car

This post is the latest in our “Driving Local” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of August, including topics like autonomous vehicles and the car as the ultimate “local” mobile device. See the rest of the series here


Street Fight is rolling into August with the monthly theme Driving Local: a look at how the automobile is becoming the ultimate local mobile device. How will it increasingly become the digital touchpoint for our local search, discovery, and commerce decisions?

This comes as companies like Tesla are leading the way with connected in-car experiences, like Netflix. As that channel is established and opened, further logical integrations could include local search and discovery applications. This can play out in a car you own or within Uber rides, a domain that continues to be a sleeping giant for captive attention and driving local commerce.

Why is this important to Street Fight (and to you)? As we continue to evolve the definition of “local,” one key component of its market opportunity is offline brick-and-mortar shopping. After all, about 90% of all U.S. retail spending, to the tune of about $3.7 trillion, is completed offline in physical stores. That is usually in proximity to one’s home (thus, local).

Could an increasingly digital and connected car influence those purchases when consumers are out and about? This is one extension of the local search that consumers used to do at home but now do on their mobile devices while on the move. The car could become a third point of connection and influence.

How this plays out is still uncertain, but there will likely be natural tie-ins such as Google and Waze’s direct integrations through auto-manufacturer partnerships. Apple also has its eye on this prize given the rather quiet but still looming Carplay platform. Apple has begun to generate its own mapping data, which could be a step toward a more robust mapping and navigation front end for cars.

The age of autonomous vehicles also comes into this discussion in interesting ways. For cars to “see” the road, they have to rely on computer vision, machine learning, and other training data that Google’s Waymo and others are developing. Once those technologies are in place, it opens the door for interesting local discovery scenarios, such as windshield-based AR overlays to inform drivers about everything from gas prices to navigation to local deals.

We’ll be unpacking these themes throughout the month. Beyond the monthly thematic focus, we’ll still cover the entire location technology and media sectors that you’ve come to expect on a daily basis. We’ll continue to publish daily articles on the most important and impactful happenings in local, as well as Street Fight Daily, our biweekly podcast, and white papers.

Look forward to more structural developments at Street Fight, and contact us with any questions or opportunities to participate.

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Mike Boland is Street Fight's lead analyst, author of the Road Map column and producer of the Heard on the Street podcast. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social and emerging tech. More biographical information can be seen at www.mikebo.land
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