Ramzi Yakob
Ramzi Yakob
A view from Ramzi Yakob

CES 2015: As marketers, it's time to take self-driving cars seriously

The show put on this year at CES has been encouraging so far, writes Ramzi Yakob, senior strategist at digital agency TH_NK.

When you see such a diverse range of products being paraded, from self-folding baby buggies to the newest innovations in smart home technology, you really feel that big manufacturers are getting over the pinch of the recession and starting to experiment again in earnest.

Out of all that diversity one thing in particular has jumped out at me. A technological advancement that doesn’t compete for our attention in a way that a smart watch, or any other gadget may, but actually grows the pool of attention available. Self-driving cars.

Even as recently as a year ago this felt a bit like some crazy sci-fi stuff that those kooky folks at Google were playing with. But it’s starting to feel a lot more real.

BMW, Mercedes and Audi have all showcased cars with, albeit limited, self driving capabilities at CES so far and are already being hailed as the stepping stones we need to start accepting fully automated self driving cars at a cultural level. Let’s fast-forward to a future where self-driving cars are becoming a part of everyday life.

The average American spends 101 minutes driving a car each day, and there’s over 211 million registered drivers in America, giving us a potential surplus of 356 million hours every day vs. today. That’s a lot of hours, and only in one country. The last time we saw Homo sapiens being gifted such a great deal of additional down-time was probably during the industrial revolution.

Lots of people are going to find ways to use that time constructively; perhaps learning a second language or write the next Harry Potter. A lot, if not most, are going to consume media. Reading more books, watching more Netflix, playing more games on their tablet or phone, or just browsing Reddit and Buzzfeed.

Increased media consumption comes with a greater volume of marketing opportunities, in an even more diverse range of contexts that we’ll need to be ready for. While we should certainly be scrutinising the evolutionary technology being showcased at CES, we mustn’t lose sight of the revolution that’s coming from left field.