A company called Vugo is the latest start-up to try putting ad screens in the back seats of cars for hire, but with the twist that the vehicles are not taxis in a fleet, but owner-operated ride-share cars working for Uber and Lyft.
The company told MediaPost it has 11,000 ride-sharing vehicles in Los Angeles and Minneapolis, and plans to expand to four more markets in 2017.
The screens are tablets installed on the back of headrests facing passengers. The interesting pitch here is that instead of generalized content and ads, or ones based on GPS location, these messages are using estimated trip intent, and the age and user profile of the passenger.
The company and system was founded two years ago by a guy who was moonlighting as an Uber driver at night, after working days at an agency.
“We look at it as mobility media,” James Bellefeuille, co-founder of Minneapolis-based Vugo Mobile Media, told MediaPost.
Drivers get a revenue share from ads, and riders can use the tablet to select the content they want.
Interesting. A LOT of companies have tried this and not very many have succeeded. Using trip intent is interesting, but you have to sell that concept and have ads that fit the profile. It might be a lot of different intents and profiles mapping to relatively few paid ads.
On the plus side, costs for installing and operating this kind of thing are waaaay less than they used to be, and I’m a fan of anything that starts to use data to tailor the message and experience. It’s not clear if that data is coming from Uber and Lyft APIs, or more broad data about demographics and consumer patterns.