Autonomous cars present a valuable opportunity for advertisers to grab the attention of potential consumers, who will no longer focus on driving the vehicle.
As advertisers learned with mobile, there isn’t one correct way to approach a new platform, and things that worked in the past won’t always work in the future. With that in mind, advertisers must be flexible and willing to try something inventive to capture consumers.
One of the easiest routes into the autonomous car will be through ride-hailing partnerships, provided by Uber, Lyft, or Ford’s unnamed program, set to launch in 2021. None of the current ride-hailing services have ads inside the car, but once the driver is ousted, we could see the interior renovated with a focus on infotainment.
That infotainment suite could include multiple screens, a voice assistant, and other platforms for advertisers to use.
Riders obviously don’t want to be hounded by adverts, but an ad-supported radio station in an Uber or a Netflix-lite service with adverts inside a Lyft could be two possible ways to interest riders, while also becoming a way for advertising networks to get inside the autonomous car.
Both of those possibilities require ride-hailing companies to be open to ads, which we suspect will become more believable once multiple ride-hailing services start to compete heavily for riders. Once the cost of a taxi becomes a zero-sum game, Uber, Google, and Lyft may look to advertisers to subsidize the cost of their war.
Waymo may have way mo’ ads to start
Google’s Waymo might install the ads from the start, as it builds on Google’s advertising platform, which keeps the self-driving car division from falling into administration. If that happens, the adoption of ads in autonomous vehicles will become commonplace a lot quicker.
That may not happen however, but it doesn’t mean advertisers can’t leverage the autonomous car revolution in other ways. Uber, Lyft, and Google will undoubtedly take information on the rider of its self-driving car, including geo-location, age, and choice of car, which, when added to the rider’s advertising profile, could be valuable.
We expect Google will force users to login to their Google account to access its self-driving platform, so that information will be merged into a profile for advertisers to target. For other firms, like Uber, the data might be sold to third-party advertising networks.