- Uber partnered with out-of-home (OOH) ad-tech firm Adomni to put advertising displays atop some of its vehicles, Adweek reported. The ride-hailer launched a new division, Uber OOH Powered by Adomni, to support the initiative, which will install displays on thousands of cars in three cities by April 1.
- The displays are provided by Cargo, which Uber has worked with since 2018 on in-car commerce. Uber previously allowed drivers to work with third parties to integrate vehicle topper displays. The new revenue-sharing deal with Adomni is the first time Uber has sponsored its own ad platform and acted as an ad publisher, per Adweek.
- Drivers participating in the pilot program running in Atlanta, Dallas and Phoenix will receive $300 to install the display units and then $100 per week when driving for more than 20 hours with the displays. After April 1, compensation will depend on hours driven with the displays in place. Uber plans to bring the service to more cities after the pilot ends.
Uber is taking another page from the traditional taxi business that it's upended with a push to install vehicle display units. The partnership with Adomni, though initially limited to three cities, could help the ride-hailer tap into a new revenue source as the OOH sector experiences a resurgence that's partially been driven by the type of mobile technology Uber specializes in.
The company becoming an ad platform could also be significant as it tries to buoy a business that's struggled to offset losses since going public last May and is looking to appease drivers frequently frustrated by the difficulties of making a living in the gig economy. While the OOH deal represents something new for Uber, Adomni will handle some heavy lifting on the back end.
The Las Vegas-based ad-tech firm, which previously worked in the car display space, will lead ad sales and marketing on the project, per Adweek. Uber working closely with Adomni follows heavy internal layoffs last year.
The company slashed 400 marketing jobs in July, which represented about one-third of the department at the time. The belt-tightening measure followed the departure of CMO Rebecca Messina, who resigned after a move to merge Uber's marketing, communications and policy teams.
Uber's ubiquity in U.S. cities could bolster early appeal for its OOH offering. During the pilot, Uber OOH advertisers will be limited to government-funded groups and the nonprofit The Ad Council, Adweek said. An Uber executive told Adweek that conversations are already taking place with more-commercial advertisers in anticipation of the ad platform expanding on April 1.
Advertisers can buy ads directly through Uber's OOH website through May 1. After that, programmatic buys can be placed through either Uber or Adomni, with plans to expand the program to demand-side partners Zeta Global and Amobee in Q3. Zeta Global and Amobee will leverage Adomni's Neon Ad Exchange to conduct transactions.
In terms of the advertising itself, the displays will center on eight-second still or video ads that can be targeted using geolocation and time of day, per Adweek. Those formats represent the type of programmatically enabled digital OOH (DOOH) that's underpinned a recent boom in spending for the outdoor category.
OOH revenue hit its highest levels since before the recession in Q2 last year, with DOOH leading the pack, according to estimates from the Out of Home Advertising Association of America. DOOH made up nearly one-third of total OOH revenue in Q2 2019, the trade group found.