Driving is one of the few experiences that can either be pleasurable or a nightmare. In the best of times, it can reward drivers with a sense of freedom and exhilaration as they zip down a highway. It’s the reason why convertibles are still desirable and why radios became a default feature for all automobiles several decades ago.
Things change when traffic comes to a standstill, whether it’s due to an accident, a snowstorm or construction. In any of those circumstances, a car can feel like a prison with little legroom and no way to escape. It’s the kind of situation that automakers could use to attract consumers to autonomous vehicles when they are ready for deployment. When that day comes, traffic jams won’t be the only time when consumers are left with nothing to do. Autonomous vehicles could eventually allow drivers to behave more like passengers as the car automatically travels to its destination. When that happens, it’s not hard to imagine how entertainment will take on a new role within the car.
“We definitely expect entertainment/infotainment to be one of the key evolutions in terms of autonomous driving,” said Wallace Lau, team lead for automotive and transportation at Frost & Sullivan. “For the first iteration, level 3, I don’t think we’ll see the infotainment come in as soon as this technology gets on the road. I think there’s gonna be some concern about it with the driver still having to pay attention and keep his eye on certain functions or alerts that the car might provide to him.”
Those concerns will be reduced as the technology progresses toward full autonomy. At that time automakers will be more likely to stuff their vehicles with numerous distractions to keep drivers busy during their boring commutes. In time, advertisers are sure to take notice. Lau said that in-car entertainment could offer a new way for advertisers to “reach out to customers on the road” and “possibly point the driver to specific locations for service stops, restaurants, entertainment or hotels.”
Sandeep Kar, global head of content transformation and global VP of mobility at Frost & Sullivan, agrees that advertisers will be eager to capitalize on the benefits (and boredom) provided by autonomy. “If the driver is not driving, he is probably watching some content,” said Kar. “What kind of advertisement goes into that content? Let’s say you’re on the interstate, you’re probably getting an ad for a motel room. That’s location-based advertising. Or an ad for an oil change at the next service station and the car will actually be guided to a dealership for your service and maintenance needs. Whatever that could be based on your viewing patterns or your operational realities.”
Some taxis have already installed displays to allow for a new source of ad revenue. Many gas stations have done the same. Kar thinks automakers could follow suit. “That could be something OEMs could use to reduce the price of its vehicles and make them more affordable,” said Kar. “What they’ll lose here they’ll more than make up from ad revenue.”
About the author:
Louis Bedigian is an experienced journalist and contributor to various automotive trade publications. He is a dynamic writer, editor and communications specialist with expertise in the areas of journalism, promotional copy, PR, research and social networking.