Uber is debuting an ad format that will tap into the company’s first-party data to target riders during different parts of their route.

These “Journey Ads” will deliver brand messages to riders while they are waiting to connect with a driver (we’ve all been there) and then more, different, ads will be delivered while users are waiting to be picked up and others during the trip. The format will also apply to Uber Eats orders.

“We have a global audience of valuable, purchase-minded consumers who, as part of our core business, tell us where they want to go and what they want to get,” Mark Grether, general manager for Uber’s advertising division, said in a statement. “While these consumers are making purchase decisions and waiting for their destination or delivery we can engage them with messages from brands that are relevant to their purchase journeys.”

Early brand users include NBCUniversal, Heineken and film distributor United Artists Releasing.

This new format is part of a strategic move by Uber which started in 2020 driven to build out its ad business. 

In 2020, Uber launched an out-of-home ad division with Adomni, a programmatic advertising platform, and expanded its OOH ads on top of New York taxis. In August 2021, the rideshare company launched display ads in its core app, and that September it hired Grether, the former Sizmek CEO and Amazon executive. 

This August, the cab app partnered with e-commerce company Rokt to target users as they are checking out in the Uber app. Around the same time, Lyft (an Uber competitor) announced its own ad business.

Furthemore, Uber is even planning to test in-car tablets—also similar to what you would see in an NYC taxi—in Los Angeles and San Francisco next month. Not too sure how well that will go down…most users spend a journey on their phone anyway or conversing with companions. 

The app’s ad options now include sponsored listings and in-menu ads across UberEats, sponsored emails for exclusive offers and cartop ads, which are similar to ads that run on top of New York City taxis. Uber’s ad division generated $141 million in revenue in 2021, up from $11 million in 2020. The company could reach $1 billion in ad revenue by 2024.

“Through our advertising division, we can help leading brands grow their relationships with consumers by connecting them at a moment when a customer is uniquely attentive,” Grether said in a statement. “By tapping into our mobility media network, our pilot campaigns have surpassed expectations in terms of brand lift, engagement, and other campaign goals. We’re eager to continue working with our partners to identify best-in-class offerings – such as in-car tablet advertising – that will ensure they’re engaging with captive and engaged audiences” Grether said while speaking at an investor day in February.

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