Uber has signed a deal with the out-of-home ad-tech company Adomni to introduce ad displays on top of a thousand vehicles in three cities by April 1.
While individual Uber drivers—working as independent contractors for the ride-share company—could previously install ad displays on top of their vehicles from third-party operators like Firefly, this agreement marks the first time Uber has rolled out a company-sponsored ad platform of its own.
The partnership with Adomni also opens a new business unit for Uber, called Uber OOH Powered by Adomni, as well as an additional revenue stream for the company, which went public in May 2019. Cargo Systems, which has had an exclusive agreement with Uber since July 2018 to provide in-car commerce offerings like snacks and beauty products, is providing the displays in a separate deal with Uber, outside of the revenue-sharing agreement for advertising between Uber and Adomni.
Uber and Uber Eats drivers in Atlanta, Ga., Dallas, Texas, and Phoenix, Ariz. will be compensated to participate in the pilot program, which will launch with commercial advertisements on April 1—equipped vehicles are currently displaying government-funded or Ad Council ads until that point. For the initial pilot period, Uber says drivers will get paid $300 to install the vehicle-topper and an additional $100 each week they drive more than 20 hours with the display—though after April 1 drivers will be paid based on how many hours they drive.
Until May 1, advertisers can only buy directly through Uber OOH’s website; after that, Uber OOH will be available programmatically through their website and Adomni’s (as an option alongside its other out-of-home offerings). And in Q3 of this year, advertisers will also be able to buy through major demand-side platforms like Zeta Global and Amobee, which will connect to Adomni’s Neon Ad Exchange.
“After exploring this idea for over a year now, we realized that the timing is perfect to launch this new ad network and we couldn’t ask for a better partner than Adomni,” Brett Baker, lead, Uber OOH, said in a statement. “Their expertise with mobile vehicle digital out-of-home networks and programmatic ad sales is compelling.”
While vehicle-topper ads are new for Uber—as this is the company’s first foray as an ad publisher of any sort—Adomni introduced the ad format atop Las Vegas taxi cabs in 2016.
In an interview with Adweek, Jonathan Gudai, CEO, Adomni, said that Uber had seen their work with other vehicle-topper networks and the two companies started talking in the late summer about teaming up—the deal was completed and signed in January.
Gudai says the goal of Uber OOH is to “unlock a new ad network and medium at the street level, in many cases with video, and have advertisers be able to reach the consumers—audiences—in a very engaging way.”
While the effort is Uber branded, the rideshare company says that Adomni will lead the ad sales and marketing efforts and “provide self-service programmatic buying via their demand-side platform (DSP), complimentary managed services, and a programmatic supply-side platform for other DSPs to access the inventory and transact in a fully automated way.”
According to an Uber spokesperson, Atlanta, Dallas and Phoenix are just the first three cities of many and the company is hoping to expand to other cities in April.
Uber vehicles will display eight-second still or video ads based on geolocation and time of day. Gudai said he’s excited about opportunities for advertisers to take advantage of Uber OOH displays in coordination with Adomni’s other street-level displays (the Las Vegas-based company boasts 165,000 connected screens worldwide).
“We have all of these other screens—many of them outdoor—that are connected to our system, so advertisers can not only buy the Uber screens, but they can also have it stitched to have their story connected to the big screens,” Gudai said.
Gudai says the vehicles will be equipped with a GPS and communicate with Adomni’s ad servers constantly to provide geofenced advertisements that can vary based on location and time of day. “Let’s say there’s a Hispanic part of the city,” Gudai said. “You could have a McDonald’s ad in Spanish.” Adomni’s ads will be third-party verified by Geopath, which they say relies on traffic patterns, mobile device data and census data to measure total impressions.
“Even just in the beginning, we’re looking at close to 200 million monthly impressions,” Gudai says, noting that they plan to scale quickly by adding more connected vehicles in additional cities.
Since its initial public offering in May, Uber has tried to prove to shareholders that it can eventually turn a profit. While Uber lost $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, that loss did beat analyst predictions and the company has reported rising revenues in recent months. Rideshare bookings were also up 28% year-over-year.
While commercial advertising won’t hit screens until April 1, Gudai says Uber OOH is already in talks with large advertisers including fast-food chains, entertainment companies, and direct-to-consumer brands.