Will Google Autonomous Cars Have Advertisements?

A recent article on Medium speculated on whether or not Google will try to feature a lower-cost service by showing ads to passengers in their planned Google autonomous taxis.

But most interesting to me is Google’s foothold and focus on adspace. This is where I believe we will see strong motivations for Google to win the on-demand transportation race. If Google wants to be in your house, you better believe they see the same value in being in your car. Could Google couple their self-driving cars with their ad network to create a freemium transportation model?

...There will be ample space on the outside of every car for ads. Since Google is creating their own fleet, they will completely control this space.

And Google can serve videos to customers during their transportation. Google could get tricky with ensuring customers don’t develop ad blindness or simply put in earbuds during their commute by using questionnaires after each ride that asks easy to answer questions about the ads they were shown. Users would answer these questions on their phone after exiting the car. Too many failed responses and you’re put back on the premium paid plan.

To heady technologists who look forward to free autonomous taxis, I offer this excerpt of a typical commute as envisioned by Philip K. Dick in his amazing 1954 short story Sales Pitch:

...now a visual ad was forming; he winced, closed his eyes, but it did no good.

"Men!" an unctuous voice thundered on all sides of him. "Banish internally-caused obnoxious odors forever. Removal by modern painless methods of the gastrointestinal tract and substitution system will relieve you of the most acute cause of social rejection..."

The voice died, and he was past. His mind his own again, Morris kicked savagely at the throttle and sent the little ship leaping. The pressure, applied directly to the audio-visual regions of his brain, had faded below spark point. He groaned and shook his head to clear it.

Rider beware.

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