Advertising through the rideshare industry is not a new idea, but supplementing the income of gig economy workers to do so, is. Nickelytics, an ad-tech company is advertising through the rideshare industry by paying ride share drivers up to $500 per month for putting vinyl wrap advertisements on their cars, and then tracking the number of views those ads get using software installed in the vehicle. Traditional out-of-home advertising, such as billboards, lacks real-time trackability and measurability, but Nickelytics installs software in the vehicle that can track the cell phones near the vehicle and even create profiles of the consumers, though the data is anonymized. This allows for more targeted advertising.
Judah Longgrear, CEO of Nickelytics claims to have always “been very bullish on the idea of subsidizing transportation costs through advertising,” claiming that both the Internet and TV have been paid for through advertising, and the fact that transportation hasn’t been is something that the market has missed. There are other companies looking at new ways to advertise using ride share services. Uber Eats started in-app advertisements, which could be even more targeted because the app has geospatial data and knows what the consumer likes to eat. There’s also Uber’s “in-ride mode” which keeps a captive audience throughout the ride to ensure the customer knows exactly where the driver is taking them. The difference is that the money generated from the ad doesn’t go to the driver.
Nickelytics is based out of Tampa Bay and was part of the Tampa Bay Wave Accelerator Program, which mentors local startups. They are currently taking part in the Smart Mobility TechStars Accelerator Program in Italy, which presents a potential opportunity for expansion into Europe. The ride share industry in Europe is expected to grow by 12.2% between 2020 and 2023, according to Statista.
The type of advertising usually put on cars is localized – attorneys, real estate professionals and businesses already spending money on out-of-home advertising. Longgrear states that, “Our goal is to become the leader in subsidizing transportation costs through dynamic advertising. I think the mobility landscape is shifting drastically and there’s going to be a lot of ways to monetize the transportation industry and I hope to be one of the winners in the market to help lower the cost of mobility and provide transportation to the masses.”
Is this the new face of targeted advertising? Do enough people trust drive by advertisements to allow such a business to have long-term viability? These vinyl wraps are not for the weekend Uber driver; the vehicle must drive a minimum of 30 miles per day to be eligible. Combining tech with the subsidizing of transportation seems like a novel idea, but whether enough businesses feel that vehicle advertisements are the way to go, especially considering how much more targeted online advertisements are, remains to be seen. Vehicle wraps do keep a low cost per impression, and trackability puts Nickelytics ahead of traditional out-of-home advertising schemes. Transportation is a cost most people have accepted as an inevitable part of life; the idea that it doesn’t have to be is innovative. If nothing else, it may be easier to spot your Uber or Lyft driver amid the mass of non-branded cars.