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How One Company Will Serve Ads to Consumers in Driverless Cars

Hal Conick

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With the rise of driverless vehicles comes the opportunity to advertise directly to passengers. How can marketers take advantage?

Autonomous vehicles are currently a rarity on the roads across most of the U.S., but ResearchAndMarkets.com expects there to be 20.8 million autonomous vehicles driving in the country by 2030.

What does the future prevalence of self-driving cars mean for marketers and advertisers? For Gary Goralnick, these cars are an opportunity to serve ads to consumers in a new way. He believes that autonomous vehicles will save the retail industry.

Goralnick—who spent most of his career investing in real estate and retail centers—is the CEO of shop in ride, which holds two patents for in-ride advertising and purchases in autonomous vehicles. The technology will connect GPS directions in autonomous vehicles to social media ads served on the devices of passengers. If someone sees an ad that looks appealing, shop in ride will send a message from the smartphone to the car’s GPS, which will direct it to the advertising company’s closest location.

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Marketing News asked Goralnick about this technology and how autonomous vehicles will affect marketing.

Autonomous cars still seem a few years away from being a presence on the market—is there a use for this technology now? Having an ad served to rideshare passengers that can change their destination, for example.

It would not work that well now for [rideshare companies] because the driver might be restricted with time and just cannot go off course last minute. However, this is something that could start to be integrated now into the self-driving test vehicles that companies like Waymo are operating. Riders could easily interact with a screen in those and the software could be modified to only present ads for destinations within the vehicle’s geo-fenced area.

This seems like a unique bet, in that most people seem attracted more to shopping online than shopping in person. Do you expect autonomous cars to change that?

The way I look at it, the car will be one big computer. When the passengers are shopping online, they will be doing it in the vehicle since they don’t need to have their eyes on the road. And the amazing thing is that the car will take you to pick up the item that you ordered and that can be from a retail store or even a warehouse. I think consumers will rapidly adopt this because it eliminates waiting for shipping and is even more convenient than one-day shipping in some cases.

Aside from this technology, how do you see autonomous vehicles changing marketing and advertising?

The way advertisers try to reach people who are in the car is with billboards and radio and hope that the driver and passenger will remember the advertisement. But there are so many billboards and radio ads that most of the time they are forgotten by the time the person got to where they were going. Autonomous cars will be a game changer for advertisers.

Radio ads can be shown on a screen in the car and the passengers can purchase the item right then and there. The car can take them to pick it up or whenever the product is ready for pick up.

The same goes for billboard ads—they can come into the car as well as the car screen, and passengers can purchase the item right away. The advertiser will get more of a chance to generate more sales.

Hal Conick is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at hconick@ama.org or on Twitter at @HalConick.