For marketers they are the next big thing

Thought Leadership
By Fadi Shuman, Global Chief Digital Officer
14 Nov, 2016

Driverless cars are like a modern day headless horseman and people are spooked. According to a survey released earlier this year by the American Automobile Association (AAA), three out of four U.S. drivers said they would be “afraid” to ride in self-driving cars. But like most things in life, this is primarily a fear of the unknown, as people seem to get used to these cars quickly once they experience them.

It would be naive to underestimate the seismic impact truly autonomous vehicles could have on civilization as we know it. Airplanes allowed us to work and travel like never before. Mobile phones gave us the freedom to communicate wherever and whenever needed, and the internet allowed us to truly become a global civilization. I believe autonomous vehicles will have as significant an impact on the world, on society, and indeed on marketing, as those previous innovations.

For many, the concept of driverless cars means Uber - without the driver. But there’s so much more to it if you consider how far this technology can take us and what opportunities it presents for marketers and businesses.

Taking the ‘driving’ out of the equation means more time and space for people to be consuming media (and yes, advertising). Suddenly the living room will have extended beyond the home, as the car becomes the second space people use for entertainment and leisure. Not only that, but the car’s use will increase due to new levels of comfort and convenience.

Being mobile means advertising can be presented to you at the right time AND the right place. For instance, the onboard Artificial Intelligence (AI) system will know your food preferences and can suggest compatible lunch spots nearby. You’ll be able to pre-order while still in motion and your food will be ready just as you arrive. You could then search for the nearest toy store (and receive discount offers from them in real time) just before doing some in-car shopping so that your groceries are ready for pick up upon arrival.

Aside from in-vehicle opportunities, marketers should also be considering the new consumers that will be able to access their stores. As a retailer in this dystopian driverless future, free transport can be provided to those who were previously unable or unwilling to get to a retail destination – be it a mall, a department store, a restaurant or an entertainment center. Door-to-door pick up and drop off provides a fantastic opportunity to grow and build loyal customers.

Goods will be delivered to us by vehicles designed purely for that purpose, which will operate 24/7 by land, sea and air making delivery costs a less important part of ecommerce. There can be a greater focus on customers and service, as the machines calculate the most efficient way to deliver thousands of packages.

The transformation of society, and ultimately of marketing, will really progress as soon as vehicles can be truly autonomous. Removing the bulk associated with a human ‘safety driver’ means cars can be designed with a more social purpose, and people will start using vehicles for more than just getting from A to B. The battleground for attention during this pivotal time in a person’s life will be a prize worth fighting for.

Clearly our phones will be the brains behind these vehicles. That’s where the AI will live allowing us plug in and go. The once humble mobile phone will continue to evolve at a dramatic pace ultimately becoming our 2nd brain. Those making and powering these AI phones can easily become the most powerful companies in the world.

It is definitely a scary prospect to give away so much control, but we’re already doing it without really acknowledging it. Whether it’s commercial flights running on autopilot for the majority of a journey, or the simple automation of ordering groceries before you run out – we are increasingly giving away control and we love it. This generation-defining change is occurring at breakneck speed and technology will soon be intelligent enough to make this future a reality. I say don’t fear it, embrace it. And be ready for a new marketing ecosystem that will change everything. Again.

Source: The Drum

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