4 Ways Self-Driving Cars Will Change Advertising

June 2, 2016

Whether you are ready for it or not, the future is just around the corner. The strange thing about the future is, it tends to look and feel more like the present than we would ever imagined. The big changes fit almost seamlessly into our everyday lives and quickly feel normal. Anticipating these change, and predicting what “normal” is going to be before it becomes normal is the key to future success.

Today, when we talk about the future, we are talking about self-driving cars. They are already on the road and within a few years they will be ubiquitous. And once they are, advertising will be changed forever.


  1. A Captive Audience

Advertisers love nothing more than having a captive audience. When you have someone’s undivided attention, you have the opportunity to sell them. And where else can you have more of someone’s undivided attention than in the car? Especially if they are not distracted by the trivial details of driving.

In a world with self-driving cars, the commute to and from work becomes empty time just waiting to be filled. What are commuters going to do with these suddenly discovered free hours? They are going to watch Netflix. They are going to stream music. They are going to entertain themselves on YouTube.  (Watch countless viral videos)

These hours in the car are going to be monetized. It is ad space just waiting to be filled. Advertising agencies will have to adapt quickly, integrating this suddenly birthed media time into their overall strategy to succeed. A captive audience of millions will be waiting to listen. Will you be ready speak to them?


  1. Death of Old Media

As new media is born, old media dies. Traditional advertising avenues such as radio and billboards will soon become a thing of the past. What driver (and we used this term liberally, as again, no one is driving) is going to waste precious seconds looking out the window when their eyes could be on a screen?

Who is going to listen to endless hours of bland, uninteresting radio when every song in the world can be streamed on-demand directly to the car? What role does talk-radio play in the world of podcasts? None. Out with the old, in with the new. Keep up or be left behind.


  1. Targeting

Right now, you are sitting at your desk reading this blog. Your phone is sitting in your pocket or laying idly next to you. And it knows exactly where it is. It also knows about every restaurant and business close to you. It can deliver ads to you based on this information.

When you are relaxing in your self-driving car, it is not just going to know where you are, it is going to know where you are headed. It is going to know what you do where you go every day.

Do you drive to work every day down 16th street at 7:30 AM? Your car will know this. It will also know you are going to pass a Starbucks at 7:43. It can seamlessly integrate a Starbucks ad into your streaming around 7:40, casually asking if you would like to make a quick pit-stop for coffee. Who could say ‘no’ to that?

But wait, targeting may go ever further. Let’s say you have recently developed the habit of stopping at In-N-Out on the way home. (We don’t blame you, we have trouble resisting as well.) A double-double animal style? Yes, please! But too many stops, and you may put on a few pounds. That’s not good.

Let’s not forget your car knows how often you slink into the drive-through. It knows you have probably been, uh, chunking up a bit. It also knows there happens to be an LA Fitness on your way home! It may slyly begin targeting advertisements at you. Pretty soon you will have a membership to LA Fitness. You may even think it was your own idea!


  1. Integration

The easier it is to buy something, the more likely you are to buy it. In fact, with proper integration, buying something can become so easy it doesn’t even feel like you are buy it! Which is dangerous for you and fantastic for anyone selling something.

Let’s consider our Starbucks example from above. Your car drops a Starbucks ad on you, then asks if you want to go. You say, “Um, ya! It’s not like I can make it through this day without coffee.”

Next, your car places your order, pays, and drives you to pick it up. What could be easier than that? Of course, your streaming service takes a cut, so too does, Google, your data provider, and maybe even the auto manufacturer. But you don’t even notice, because wow was that ever easy. You’ll be back tomorrow. And the day after that.


Advertisers who can adapt quickly to this emerging technological innovation and utilize self-driving cars to form these habits will lead the charge into the future.

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