The Future of Advertising in an Autonomous Vehicle Landscape

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When autonomous vehicles begin to replace traditional cars, the local business advertising market will shift alongside. But SMB advertising might not actually look dramatically different than it does today; instead, today’s location-based, personalized marketing will reach new customizable extremes.

The advent of autonomous cars should increase available entertainment time, said Don Richards-Boeff, product head at advertising company PureCars, in a chat about the future of advertising in an autonomous vehicle landscape. The product leader did caution that while it makes sense to prepare at a strategic level for this shift, implementation at the advertising level is still a few years away.

Richards-Boeff envisions a future in which cars will be tracking every move of their riders. Cars “will be capturing so much information about you, like where you go, what businesses you stop at, and how long you’re in your car. And, frankly, that data’s going to be for sale,” Richards-Boeff said.

Once a rider is inside a car, “your attention is focused on things that have nothing to do with going from Point A to Point B,” and instead will allow for an increase in time spent on streaming video. This increase in entertainment time will correspond with an advertising bombardment. “It’s going to be highly engaged, personalized video… and it might even be video that feels like someone spent a really long time on it,” he said, adding that artificial intelligence may compose a video ad based on music and streaming selections and travel over the course of the last week.

“It might feel creepy at first—I mean it happens all around us today—so I think that trend is just going to continue in the vehicle,” he said.

The recent trends toward Google My Business listings dominating online search and advertising should only continue for local business, Richards-Boeff predicted. In the near future, a company that can combine your travel history, your consumption history, your entertainment history, and your search history will be the most successful in the local advertising market. Because consumer vehicles are going to become entertainment vehicles, businesses need to be able to say, “We can put your business in front of those captive consumers better than anyone else,” in order to win in the space, he said.

Richards-Boeff even suggested a potential scenario wherein customers sell their personal data to car companies for steep car purchase discounts. “The more you allow the data about yourself to be used … they may actually supplement the cost of ownership,” he said. “Maybe they’ll subsidize it to the point where it’s an impulse purchase.”

For car dealerships and original equipment manufacturers, the themes of car advertising will shift more dramatically. Instead of selling a car for its speed and features, companies like Tesla may sell cars based on the ease-of-life experience they can provide.

Finally, aggressive car companies hoping for future advertising success need to find ways to push their messaging at the dealership network level. Companies that don’t “will be left behind,” Richards-Boeff said.