By on December 5, 2017

GM marketplace

General Motors has announced it is the first automaker with its very own in-car commerce platform. We aren’t the least bit surprised.

In fact, we’ve been waiting for GM to announce something like this ever since it expressed an interest in using OnStar to deliver “personalized marketing offers” a little over a year ago. Since then, the manufacturer has also indicated plans to create an app store accessible from a vehicle’s infotainment system, as well as use driver data acquisition as a possible revenue source.

While GM isn’t the only company taking this path, it’s arguably the one that’s gotten the furthest. Our takeaway is that the services being rendered and developed are extremely clever ways for an automaker to rake in money, but will not be universally popular. This early example of GM’s changing business model ought to make the company a bundle while aggravating a certain percentage of consumers. 

The company calls the free service “marketplace.” It recommends an array of local dining, lodging, and fueling locations you may want to use via your center console. Customers can use the system to access the items they want to purchase, order them through the app, and then (in some instances) pay from inside the car.

However, the only recommendations drivers will receive are affiliate brands that made a deal with GM to be included in the service. So, if you want gas, odds are good the system will point you toward a Shell or ExxonMobil station. If you want dinner, it’ll probably suggest Applebee’s or TGI Friday’s. You get the picture.

General Motors says the limited number of outlets should grow in the near future, claiming it has asked interested merchants to make contact if they’d like to be included in the service. Marketplace will be added wirelessly to all 2017 and 2018 model-year vehicles equipped with GM’s MyLink infotainment system. Owners are required to agree to the update, which the automaker began issuing last week. While it requires access to the car’s built-in wireless network, GM says it does not necessitate a paid data plan.


You’re probably wondering why you should care, given that most of these services are already available on your smartphone. GM has an answer for that.

“The average American spends 46 minutes per day on the road driving. Leveraging connectivity and our unique data capabilities, we have an opportunity to make every trip more productive and give our customers time back,” explained Santiago Chamorro, vice president for GM’s global connected customer experience. “Marketplace is the first of a suite of new personalization features that we will roll out over the next 12 to 18 months to nearly four million U.S. drivers.”

“For most retailers and consumer brands the daily commute is the only time not accessible in a consumers’ day,” he continued. “Marketplace gives merchants the ability to more safely engage with drivers and passengers in a meaningful way that provides true value for our customers.”

Marketplace is also said to be developed specifically for use while driving and minimizes physical interactions with the app. Not having used it, we cannot attest to it being safer or more convenient than stopping to whip out a phone. But, assuming it is, that would be a handy little service for commuters with tight schedules.

Using the machine-learning tech GM developed with help from IBM in 2016, marketplace uses real-time interaction data (driver location, time of day, and the customer’s digital information) to provide “highly personalized experiences.” That’s code for targeted in-car advertising and, if you’re alright with that, then you’ll probably be sweet on the service.

However, if the idea of your automobile tracking your purchasing behaviors and whereabouts turns you off, you should probably decline the update while you have the chance.

[Image: General Motors]

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34 Comments on “GM Adds Digital Marketplace to Its Vehicles for Onboard Purchasing...”

  • avatar

    Now we will have to deal with people who are driving and shopping at the same time.

  • avatar

    “Marketplace gives merchants the ability to more safely engage with drivers and passengers in a meaningful way that provides true value for our customers.”

    This and the rest of the quotes are corporate marketing BS. It’s all about how to acquire data (for free) and sell it. American citizens are now “consumers”, nothing more than units containing money that needs to be extracted.

    “Our customers” aren’t the drivers, but the companies that pay GM to steer more consumers their way.

    GM and its half-witted corporatespeak can go rot.

  • avatar

    “For most retailers and consumer brands the daily commute is the only time not accessible in a consumers’ day,”

    Why is this bad?

    • 0 avatar
      A Scientist

      My thoughts exactly. God forbid consumers not be “accessible” to retailers for a few short minutes out the day.

      • 0 avatar
        Menar Fromarz

        Im sure the sheer fact that consumers actually sleep for some part of the night and are therefore “inaccessible” to marketers, has the next frontier being marketed to and able to interactively purchasing whilst sleeping. OH! The possibilities!
        Just say no for the love of God, and drive!

        • 0 avatar

          reminded me of the “Futurama” episode where they show off TV ads beamed straight to your brain while you’re asleep. get a pair of Lightspeed briefs

          [vimeo 62631005 w=640 h=360]

    • 0 avatar

      From the automaker’s viewpoint I would imagine it has to do with the huge value multiples put on digital marketing services by Wall Street compared to lackluster stock valuations for companies that actually make things and employ people. But I could be wrong and maybe they really do want to provide a useful service to drivers… I crack myself up sometimes.

    • 0 avatar

      Have these people not heard of billboards?

    • 0 avatar

      Because that means there are a few minutes when they are not complying with the prime directive of our society – BUY, BUY, BUY!!

      I suggest re-reading Brave New World, Harrison Bergeron, and Fahrenheit 451. Truly, these authors were able to predict the world of today with uncanny accuracy.

  • avatar

    I wonder if the lawyers will eventually make GM disable that feature when the vehicle is moving. Causing an accident while engaged/distracted by “your highly personalized experiences” sound like trouble.

    • 0 avatar

      It’ll probably be the opposite: “Please say GM to continue driving.” The idea is already there, although this is a TV:

    • 0 avatar
      Blair Wooten

      Marketplace only works while the car is in park. How many times do you drive your car while it’s in park? So why waste the time to involve a lawyer? And how do you get into an accident with a non moving car? Your post makes no sense at all..

  • avatar

    Just another place to stick advertisements… on the DASH.

    “Owners are required to agree to the update, which the automaker began issuing last week.”

    So its opt-in but is there an choice to opt-out of the whole thing?

    I can see where it might helpful, like in a rental car where you don’t know the area. That’s about the only time I find myself in a GM product anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      This exactly. No matter how small the screen or where it is, there lies the “opportunity to interact with a potential customer”. Soon you’ll need adblock for your damn car. I’m sure the CDN that all of the content that will be pushed from is totally secure and nothing bad could ever happen.

  • avatar

    As long as the voice recognition technology is good enough to allow me to order and ship my wife’s Christmas present while driving my 1/2 hour commute. ;-)

  • avatar

    Marketing bullcrap at its finest. How about something useful? The car detects you are low on gas and sends out an order for bids on the right to sell you some gas? You get cheaper gas, a business gets some revenue and GM could even take a cut.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      deanst, it’s almost always a bad idea for GM or other car manufacturers to build cellular hardware or infotainment into the car. Guaranteed to become obsolete long before the car wears out. It would be considerably more useful if gauge readings were available to your phone via Bluetooth with only a big, easy to read display built into the dash. Imagine the crowd sourced price information of the Gas Buddy app made easier and safer to get at while driving with no cut to GM.

  • avatar

    OK GM (ala OK Google, Hi Bixby…) Please order 4 bottles of 100oz Tide with Fabreze, a case of Jack Daniels and a red CT6 with 3.6 AWD.

  • avatar
    Null Set

    Hacked already, I’m sure. Caveat emptor.

  • avatar

    Customers will ignore it and it will be discontinued in 2020, mark my words.

  • avatar

    They named Chamorro VP of GCCX? That’s such an odd choice. I’d say that transitioning from President of GM de Brazil to VP of just one business unit would be a demotion, but he does report directly to Mary.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Better yet, is there a way to simply disable OnStar completely without disabling the rest of the head unit? Is OnStar’s antenna connection shared with the over-the-air radio and/or satellite radio? If it’s separate, one could just pull out the connector. If it’s not, then it’s a much more complex problem. An aftermarket head unit may or may not work. It could nix the entire vehicle purchase for some – including me.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Disconnecting only the cellular antenna input to the module should disable OnStar without disabling Bluetooth and satellite radio. There are lots of vehicle specific instructions and videos available. Some people have disconnected the rooftop cellular antenna on the Silverado from OnStar and connected it to an in-car cell phone repeater instead.

  • avatar

    We need a regulation that any vehicle fitted with this… – sorry, non-obscene words to dedcribe this concept fail me at the moment – anyway, that any vehicle fitted with this also be required to carry a large rotating red light on the roof, said light being interlocked to the fuel pump so if any attempt is made to disable it, the fuel is turned off. Then I can tell who is busy while behind the wheel of a car on the same road as I am, but not busy driving – no, busy shopping.

  • avatar

    So in the morning I get into my GM vehicle, hit the start button, and a commercial starts on the screen, with a little box in the corner that says, “You can start this vehicle in 5…4…3…2…1…”

  • avatar

    We already have too much of this garbage on our phones and computers. Now, GM wants to add it to automobiles?

    I don’t understand how vendors can believe that intrusive advertising does anything but annoy potential customers.

    I run AdBlock and close web sites without further attention as soon as they demand that I whitelist them. Ditto for the ones that require me to watch the ad before seeing the story. The rest I ignore as if the space they occupy on my screen is blank.

    Whenever the local college classical music station starts a begathon, I stop listening until it ends.

    TiVo is great for watching television because you can skip, not just fast forward, over most commercials.

    When we get phone calls from peddlers and beggars, my wife and I tell them that we keep a record so that we can be sure never to buy from or give to them.

    A few years ago, the humorist Dave Barry published the 800 number of the telemarketing industry’s trade organization. They received so many irate calls they had to change the number.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh FFS!!!

      To ad(d) to what else has been said, let me guess: the ads will run just fine, but will slow down, and otherwise fvkc with, the rest of the functionality of the infotainment!

      Just like watching a local TV station which has to implement a system which pre-empts the normal commercials on the online stream with station promo ads and so/called “bumpers” and “fillers,” because for whatever reason, the normal commercial content is not authorized for online dissemination; the normal programming stream stutters and and stammers, or sometimes just quits altogether, but those insipid promos work perfectly, and with enough repetition (the same bumper is shown five subsequent times in one break), you simply give up and read the news!

      WTF do you do IN THE CAR??!!

      Any time I hear some pencil-necked marketing twerp start babbling about “the customer experience” and some of the other twaddle mentioned in the article, I want to projectile-vomit!

  • avatar

    Sure, you can get all that same data on your cell phone, now… The NHTSA has already been looking at technologies and regulations that would disable certain mobile device functionality if the device is inside a moving vehicle. An info-tainment system based marketplace incentivizes the automobile industry to work with regulators (and legislatures) to make it so you can only use the car’s system for certain functions. I’m personally waiting for the car manufacturers to give up on trying to monopolize the monetization of their infotainment systems and just create an interface for device and technology companies to “do it better”. GM’s software is always going to suck compared to Apple’s and Google’s simply because their software development budget is so much smaller than Apple’s and Google’s and because they have far less data to use. (The data question is why Google Maps can provide real time re-routing due to changes in traffic conditions while the car based nav systems can’t.)

  • avatar

    There is no way this is ultimately beneficial to any driver. They will probably be recording your conversations and image, which will be buried in the EULA.

    F*** you GM.

  • avatar

    This actually makes me want to go to my local GM dealer…

    …and explain to them why they will not be getting any of my business.

  • avatar

    This is nothing but Internet lite, doomed to fail. They are bringing out a new/better DVD player – why ? How can a large, seemingly competent, company as GM make such a mistake in today’s hyper connected environment – especially amongst the young. Christ guys get your OnStar house together – license Yelp or Trip Advisor or even include Panera, Chipoltle or other obviously popular places rather than TGIF.

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