Forget your peaceful Uber ride — the ride-hailing service just announced it’s testing in-car tablets dedicated to displaying ads during your trip. The company’s, thankfully, not rolling out the program widely yet; it’s only piloting it in San Francisco and Los Angeles to start.
So far, Uber says it has partnered with over 40 brands, including NBCUniversal, Heineken, and United Artists Releasing for its new “Journey Ads.” It also created an advertising division to help build out this offering and plans on sticking more ads in the Uber Eats app, in emails, on digital storefronts, and through car-top ads — a sort of digital billboard drivers can place on the roof of their vehicles.
Lyft launched a similar advertising arm in August and has already started displaying ads on in-car tablets in Los Angeles-based vehicles. The tablets don’t just display ads, though, as Lyft explains riders can “track progress along their route, rate and tip drivers, and control the music of their ride through our partnership with iHeartRadio.” (Hopefully, Uber will do the same, as this at least makes the tablets more useful.) Lyft also says it will also add digital ad panels to its ebike stations, expand in-app ads, and use similar car-top ads it calls “Lyft Halos.”
Uber is still struggling to become profitable and only just reported $382 million in positive cash flow for the first time in August. However, a new proposal from the Department of Labor could change the way it does business, potentially making it harder for services, like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, to classify certain workers as contractors. This could require these companies to give drivers new benefits and protections, such as minimum wage and overtime.