A San Francisco start-up called Grabb-It is trying to make a go of a Digital OOH advertising model that puts pico projectors in the back of ride-share cars that beam ads on to a rear passenger window.
The ads show up on windows because of a transparent film overlay added to the window. The spots only run when the Uber or Lyft or whatever does not have an active fare.
A company called Rear Window Media was looking at something like this perhaps 10 years ago, and I am not sure it ever really went anywhere.
One difference here is that the start-up team seems to have invested the time to understand how media sales work, and the importance of audience measurement and accountability. The company uses anonymous WiFi sniffing to get a sense of how many potential viewers were in range of the screen and ads.
The other difference is that the media community has come a looong way in 10 years to a level that it budgets and actively buys digital OOH, whereas 10 years ago, not so much.
This video explains what the business is all about.
The company is VERY startup-ish, and has been part of the Y-Combinator accelerator program this summer. Grabb-It has raised some operating capital already, and told TechCrunch recently it already has 25 or so cars in test mode.
The pitch to ride share drivers is money – with Grabb-It suggesting a driver doing 40 hours a week could pull in $300 a month, which would at least offset fuel costs or car payments.
There have been countless companies trying to put screens inside of taxis and limos, and very few have thrived. The actual audience is small and the experience irritating for many/most riders. Making the screens sidewalk facing makes more sense, in most respects, because the potential audience is much larger. Digital taxi-toppers are increasingly common, for example, in big cities.
One of the challenges here will be the issue of distraction on major roadways. Many or most digital billboards are static images and not video, to reduce the risk of motorists having to pay more attention to media than to driving.
The other challenge, as with almost any DOOH network, is getting to the sort of scale that attracts brands with serious advertising dollars.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.