UPDATED 22:16 EDT / FEBRUARY 24 2020

uberooh1 EMERGING TECH

Uber goes old school and offers mobile advertising billboards to drivers

Uber Technologies Inc. likes to think of itself as more of a technology company than a glorified taxi firm, but with a new push into advertising, it’s going old school: ads on the top of vehicles.

The ad push involves Uber signing a deal with ad-tech company Adomni, which provides mobile billboards for “out-of-home advertising,” or put more simply, ads on top of taxis. The new service, dubbed “Uber OOH,” is pitched as enabling advertisers to connect with their audience via real-time connected, street-level digital screens on top of Uber vehicles.

According to CNBC, the service will first launch in Atlanta, Phoenix and Dallas before being rolled out later this year to other markets where Uber operates, including Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Since Uber is a “technology” company, the ads are said to involve geofenced creative content “for the ideal audience,” which apparently means that the vehicle ads will show specific ads for places that are nearby. Adomni itself is also offering the ability for advertisers to link Uber vehicle advertising to nearby billboards.

The vehicle ad boards are digital, hence the ability to match to nearby billboards. In a video provided by Adomni, the board is attached to ski racks on top of a vehicle. It’s not clear if ski racks or similar gear re required to attach the digital on-vehicle advertising.

Although it’s easy to be skeptical of an old-school service like this, it could be good for Uber drivers. Uber is offering drivers $100 a week to put the advertising on top of their vehicles in addition to a $300 upfront payment for installing the displays. There are conditions, such as Uber drivers needing to provide service to customers for a minimum of 20 hours a week to be eligible for the program.

The new advertising service may be a net positive for Uber drivers, but Uber itself is currently caught in a market that is seriously spooked given the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus globally. Uber shares dropped 5.9% today on a day the Dow dropped 1,000 points on coronavirus fears, its third-worst point drop in history.

Image: Uber OOH

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