AdAge is Half-Right About Driverless Cars, But It’s the Wrong Half…

We had to laugh at the badly reasoned article in Advertising Age last week from Carrot Creative’s VP-Communications Len Kendall, “The Next Big Mobile Ad Platform — Your Car.”  

We think Len is late to the party — your car’s not the “next big mobile ad platform,” Len, it’s already here and being capitalized upon. This is an example of a myopic digital agency bias that embraces technology simply for technology’s sake while ignoring what’s already been proven to work, to the point of being painfully unaware of the huge strides that have already been made on the out-of-home platform and the businesses springing up around it.

Len writes that self-driving cars are going to change the outdoor advertising business because people will no longer look at billboards and focus on their phones or other screens. It presumes that billboards will stop evolving when we already know the opposite is true.

If anything billboards and traditional OOH will become more contextual, interacting with self-driving cars’ passive passengers on their devices, and personalizing the experience.

There’s also the more straightforward fact that when drivers don’t have to keep their eyes glued to the road, they may also choose to spend more time looking at the world around them. Not everybody who rode the bus in the 1950s was reading a newspaper, some liked to watch the world go by and think, and the same will be true of car owners who aren’t car drivers.

We would give Len credit for suggesting ad networks will spring up around vehicular ad network platforms, except that … it’s already happened and Wrapify is proving every day there’s money to be made there.

He suggests “augmented reality” on car windows will be the new billboards when it will surely be more cost effective (and eye-catching) to wrap vehicles completely with a colorful marketing message that encompasses the entire car, not just the window.

Do you think people would rather look out the windows of their car and see the world around them, including wrapped vehicles advertising a brand, or be trapped in their car, unable to see out because an ad covers the window? The answer seems self-evident.

Carrot’s top communication person also tips his bias by opening with an oblivious endorsement of self-driving cars as a lifesaver, but chooses not to mention that there have been a couple deaths so far as well. He also fails to note that not everybody’s so thrilled with the idea of driverless cars, as well as the potential loss of personal control.

There’s a lot wrong with Len Kendell’s AdAge article, but what’s worst about it is how it fundamentally fails clients with the pledged promise of what’s coming, when the answer is already here.

As chronicled in many, many leading advertising and marketing publications — Adweek, TechCrunch, Business Insider, MediaPost and many others — Wrapify is the “Uber for Advertisers” that’s already turned your car into a mobile ad platform through technology, and has the clients, data analytics and drivers (and over $300,000 in driver payouts!) to prove it.

Wrapify has revolutionized the OOH business by tracking our drivers in real time while they do their ordinary daily driving. We use telemetry data from the car to track drivers' real-time location on a map, and pair it with anonymized data from other sources to understand how many cars nearby see the message.

This is happening now, it’s working spectacularly well for advertisers, more and more of whom are getting on the platform by the month. Wrapify is in 27 markets (including all the major ones) and has over 35,000 drivers signed up.

The fact that somebody could write an article like what appeared in Advertising Age without any acknowledgment of what’s happening in the category already is as revealing of the writer as it is about the digital agency mindset in general. Some people are so focused on what’s next, they can't get out of their comfort zone to realize what's now. And Wrapify is leading the charge in revolutionizing the outdoor industry now. 

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