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Priceline latches onto in-car experiences to extend mobile commerce reach

Priceline inked a deal with General Motors’ Chevrolet that opens up a new area of mobile commerce for the online travel agency within a car.

Mobile-fueled connected car experiences are growing quickly, as seen yesterday with new big announcements from Priceline and General Motors, as well as Pandora. For the new deal between Priceline and Chevy, the focus is around serving up a utility as an extension of the online travel agency’s existent mobile strategy.

“Through this new partnership with General Motors, will be continuing our commitment to the highest levels of innovation when it comes to mobile travel,” said Brett Keller, chief marketing officer at Priceline, Norwalk, CT.

“Mobile technology is transforming the travel landscape, and it doesn’t just include cellular phones anymore, it’s everything from smartphones to tablets to in your car on the go,” he said. “We are a mobile-first company and we know that cars represent the next wave of connected travel.”

Connected bookings
Priceline is one of the initial apps being rolled out in the Chevrolet AppShop. The AppShop is an in-vehicle app store and will work with the automaker’s 4G LTE hardware.

The Chevrolet AppShop is expected to be available on most 2015 Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models.

Besides Priceline, other initial apps available on Chevrolet AppShop include The Weather Channel, Slacker Radio, Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio and Glympse.

Priceline has developed a custom in-car app that lets consumers find and book a hotel room while on the go.

Drivers and passengers using the app will immediately be able to access information from their built-in car systems.

Additionally, Chevy will offer 4G LTE connections with OnStar to give consumers fast access to apps that work best over high-speed cell or data connections.

Priceline will be integrated into this experience so that they can immediately access live advisors from the online travel agent by clicking on the blue OnStar button within their cars. The advisors can then access Priceline’s inventory and help drivers and passengers book hotel rooms from within their cars.

As part of the Chevy deal, most vehicles will be loaded with Wi-Fi hotspots that can then be synched up to smartphones, tablets and laptops.

“We know our Chevrolet customers want more integration, more options and the ability to customize their in-vehicle experience,” said Michelle Malcho, spokeswoman for Chevrolet, Detroit.

“The Chevrolet AppShop gives drivers the ability to create their own personalized, fully customizable in vehicle experience through various music, news, weather and entertainment apps,” she said.

Chevy’s in-car system

In-car streaming?
In addition to the Priceline and Chevrolet news, Pandora has announced a new in-car advertising platform. Taco Bell, State Farm and Ford are big brands that are already on board with the new service.

The new in-car advertising platform is in response to a 244 percent increase of unique visitors that listen to Pandora through a native automobile integration.

The service will serve up 15 to 30-second audio clips that will run across all 23 automakers and eight aftermarket manufacturers. Pandora’s in-car advertising service will run across 130 vehicle models.

Pandora claims to have 76.2 million active monthly users and logged more than 1.58 billion listening hours in December.

Similar to Pandora’s other services, consumers can upgrade to a paid Pandora One account for ad-free listening.

The music streaming giant also claims that its in-car advertising platform will serve up fewer ads than the company’s other services.

Pandora has attracted the attention of both brands and retailers over the years in driving commerce and sales through targeted ad buys, and the new in-car platform should be appealing to brands that are already buying significant amounts of Pandora inventory.

“Nearly half of all radio listening takes place in the car and incorporating Pandora into the native environment of the car has remained a key focus for us,” said John Trimble, chief revenue officer at Pandora, Oakland, CA.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York