Autonomous Vehicles Will Be A New Opportunity For Marketers | Hawthorne Advertising

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Autonomous Vehicles Will Be A New Opportunity For Marketers

Author: Forbes Agency Council;  Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: June 4, 2018

Autonomous vehicles have been at the forefront of innovative thinking and Autonomous Vehicle development for some time now, and automakers are already exploring how they can fit into this new future.

Earlier this year, Toyota announced its vision to transform from a car company into a mobility company, while the Ford Motor Company is creating a reliable future of transportation through a systems-based approach for smart cities. Other automotive companies have pilot programs for autonomous vehicles that will become increasingly ambitious in 2018, reflecting a broader vision of what this technology will be able to do.

The reality is, despite ambitious projects already in the works by Ford, Tesla and BMW, autonomous vehicles won’t be ready to ship to the public for several years. Even with friendly city regulators, the real-world hurdles will take time to navigate, but the momentum is strong.

While the automobile as an ad medium is still in its infancy, marketers are starting to think about the enormous and exciting implications. As a full-service, data analytics-based media agency, we would welcome this additional channel to our cross-channel mix.

A New Marketing Medium

With the advent of self-driving cars and autonomous vehicles comes a new concept for the consumption of content. Vehicles will be the new living room, featuring multimedia surfaces for viewing a variety of media and advertising/branded experiences. They will encompass a 360-degree environment, all from the comfort of your moving living room. Autonomous vehicles will become the new entertainment field, so while consumers are relaxing on their commute to work, they will not only be on their phone and computers, but they will also have touchscreens in the car and projections or even holograms on the windshield with which to interact.

Cross-channel advertising opportunities in this fully immersive environment could combine the offline mediums, where commercial ads would sponsor your video content or streaming TV series; an outdoor/billboard type of environment where a product placement or still ad billboard could pop up before any article or organically flash across your screen as you geolocate near a particular store or brand, and radio spots could be micro-targeted for your demographic and sponsor podcasts and music channels. And of course, there would be digital banners and pay-per-click (PPC) targeting on your computer and mobile devices.

While it may seem like it could be a further invasion of personal space, the in-vehicle experience will actually be more customized with personalized content based on past likes and online activities and histories. Imagine restaurant or activity recommendations made on the fly. The vehicle might even be programmed to take passengers directly to recommended destinations upon opt-in from the passenger. Eventually, the vehicle might even be able to be commanded to suggest a customized day, curated entirely by the autonomous vehicle.

So, what do brands need to consider when they begin to add in-vehicle advertising and marketing to their media mix? The new self-driving vehicles will begin to not only shift the way people look at transportation but also change the way people behave within those vehicles. It will mean a whole new level of personalization to the brand experience where, if an advertisement comes into your car, you could click on the ad and the vehicle could physically take you to where you can personally experience the brand or the offering.

Overstimulation of advertising could obviously be a challenge, where the consumer begins to become numb or tune out the many stimuli. Therefore, just as marketers work hard at adding value today, they will have to continue creating content that is brief and engaging and that the consumer is genuinely interested in.

Looking To The Future

How will the addition of in-vehicle marketing opportunities continue to affect the overall industry landscape for marketers moving forward? First of all, when you consider that the average person today spends about 17,600 minutes each year driving, it isn’t a stretch to think about how that consumer’s time will increase once self-driving cars and other autonomous forms of transportation are the norm. And that expansion speaks volumes about how important a medium in-vehicle could be to marketers in the future.

Marketers will have to continue working with data scientists and technologists on enhancements with geotargeting and using the vehicle as a large beacon to better refine customer segmentation and location. Those marketers who are savvy about creating highly customized, value-added content for their brand that truly resonates with their in-vehicle engaged audiences will be successful.

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