Much of the focus of connected cars or autonomous driving is on details around how the car will be networked and avoid accidents along with various aspects of reliability and security.
If all that gets resolved, the marketing focus will shift to how to better serve the ‘driver’ in a self-driving car.
An early, rudimentary version of in-car video marketing can be seen in most New York taxis, where TV-type screens in the back seat play and promote to captive passengers, until they press the mute or off button.
However, some of what in-car marketing might look like in the future already is in motion in ridesharing vehicles like Uber and Lyft.
This version of in-car advertising is in play in more than 11,000 ridesharing vehicles in Los Angeles and Minneapolis, expanding to four more markets next year.
The difference in these TV screens -- tablets rideshare drivers install onto the backs of front seats -- is that the content involves estimated trip intent, age and user profile of the passenger seeing the screens.
The ridesharing advertising system Vugo was started two years ago by a nighttime Uber driver who worked at an ad agency by day.
The system delivers relevant and targeted advertising and creates real-time deals and offers.
“We look at it as mobility media,” James Bellefeuille, co-founder of Minneapolis-based Vugo Mobile Media, told me.
Vugo uses what it calls its Tripintent technology to target the messaging essentially based on where the passenger likely is going.
The system brings drivers additional revenue, says Bellefeuille. “It’s about monetization and about content distribution.”
Through the Vugo screens, passengers can select a news channel to watch, for example. No matter what they watch, messaging is created and targeted for each specific trip.
“Everybody hates advertising,” says Bellefeuille. “This is now about empowering the passenger experience with premium content in the environment.”
Bellefeuille sees the day coming when cars will be driving themselves, freeing people in the vehicle from having to keep their eyes on the road all the time.
“When drivers become passengers, it will be about empowering the passenger experience,” he says.
He also suggests that targeting advertising ultimately may subsidize being driven, opening the door to free transportation.
Intel recently announced it was investing $250 million in autonomous cars with the objective of capturing data, as I wrote about here at the time (Intel Invests $250 Million To Advance Connected Cars).
Meanwhile, Vugo is riding along in the back seat helping provide information and deals relating to where the passenger is going.
Intel is looking for the data. Vugo is gaining insights from the passengers.