Some companies look at Uber and Lyft cars and see a vast, untapped resource: a way to reach passengers and pedestrians with marketing messages. Here is a rundown on some companies using Uber and Lyft cars (and sometimes regular people’s cars) for marketing: Wrapify: This San Diego company wraps cars in giant advertising decals, a process that takes a few hours. A Delaware company called Carvertise offers a similar service. Both work with regular drivers, as well as Uber/Lyft drivers. Drivers can take in $300 to $400 a month on average, said James Heller, the CEO and co-founder of the 15-person Wrapify, which has raised $5.8 million. Part of its appeal is that it provides advertisers with granular analytics that slice and dice who sees the campaign and where and when. Drivers make more if they have their entire car wrapped, though there are options to just wrap part of the car or put ads just on the door panels. About a fifth of the 80,000 drivers who’ve signed up to showcase ads are Uber/Lyft drivers, Heller said. Not all have actually had their cars wrapped. Campaigns last a month to a year. The company is in 35 metro areas, including San Francisco. Wrapify will create “swarms” of wrapped cars, offering incentives for drivers to converge on a certain location at a certain time — outside AT&T Park on baseball’s Opening Day, or around the Moscone Center during the Dreamforce conference, for instance. Fremont resident Brent Goodale drives for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Amazon Flex on top of working as a software programmer, to generate extra money for his kids’ college tuition. He signed up for Wrapify and made $147 from March 9 to April 5 during which he drove 952 miles (some of the miles may have been outside the area that Wrapify pays for). “The passive income is really great although it just offsets expenses,” he said. “I figure as long as I’m driving anyway, I might as well get some of that (IRS mileage rate) of 54 cents a mile back.” No passengers have said anything about the giant ad, although some colleagues at his day job have asked about it. He had to leave his car for a full day to get it wrapped. “If I’m burning a day out of my life, it might not be worth it,” he said. Vugo: Co-founder James Bellefeuille came up with the idea for Vugo’s backseat infotainment video screens while moonlighting as an Uber driver on top of his day job at an advertising agency. “My (ad) clients wanted to reach people like my passengers at the right time, right place, with the right message,” he said. The Minnesota company started off providing Uber and Lyft drivers backseat tablets with video content and commercials, but now it offers software for fleet owners to set up their own ad-supported tablet systems instead. Vugo’s first target for this is New York, where it is common for companies to own fleets of black cars that they lease to drivers who work for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services. But Vugo quickly ran into a roadblock. New York City regulators banned interior ads in ride-hailing vehicles to protect “passenger comfort,” even though they are allowed in New York cabs. Vugo sued the city for violating its First Amendment rights, and won its case in February. It’s now starting to install its software in 3,500 black cars. Drivers make about $100 to $200 a month, the company says. Passengers can lower the volume and dim the screen, and Vugo also says it has added mute and off buttons. Vugo’s victory was greeted with dismay by some local media. “Your ride home from Uber, Lyft is about to get a lot more annoying,” wrote the New York Post. Many New Yorkers loathe Taxi TV, backseat screens in yellow cabs which run repetitive content and lengthy ad loops. “Everyone talks about how negative an experience taxi ads are; we want to prove it doesn’t have to be that way,” Bellefeuille said. He said passengers eventually will be able to select content they’re interested in, such as sports or entertainment. “If you’re going to the ballgame and running late, we could stream the opening to you so you don’t miss it.” Vugo plans to come to the Bay Area this year and is also looking at Los Angeles, Bellefeuille said. WaiveCar: “Imagine ZipCar but free, with ads on all the cars,” is how Zoli Honig, co-founder and chief technology officer of WaiveCar, describes the Santa Monica company. Its electric and hybrid vehicles are all wrapped with vinyl ads and have rooftop digital displays to show yet more ads. Customers can “rent” the cars for two hours for free and pay $6 per hour thereafter. The idea is that the renters will drive the ads around, exposing them to a broad population. WaiveCar gives advertisers lots of metrics about where and when their messages are seen. Advertisers pay around $1,500 a month for a “wrap,” and about $4,000 a month for exclusive use of the rooftop displays. WaiveCar plans to have 200 cars in its fleet in Los Angeles by the end of the year, including 50 hybrids aimed at drivers for Uber, Lyft, Postmates, DoorDash and other such services. Its “Waive Work” program for gig economy drivers lets them keep the cars indefinitely as long as they rack up enough miles. Drivers get the cars for free but pay for their own insurance. “The ads get much more exposure” with the gig drivers, Honig said. “People are glued to their phones except when they’re walking or driving.” The company appeared on TV’s “Shark Tank” in September and landed a $500,000 investment from businessman and TV figure Kevin O’Leary. It’s now seeking more funds to expand, with San Francisco as a potential future market. Cargo: “An in-car minibar is a fairly apt analogy” for Cargo, said Jeff Cripe, the New York company’s CEO and founder. Cargo makes a device that sits atop a ride-hailing driver’s center console to show various products for sale such as iPhone chargers, Advil and energy drinks. Passengers can scan a QR code or type in a URL to select products via a mobile menu. “Every time someone gets into a car with Cargo, our hope is that you can find essentials plus fun discovery goods to keep you interested,” Cripe said. Companies also pay Cargo to distribute freebies of new products, like beauty masks or snacks, to Uber/Lyft passengers. Drivers average about $100 a month, earning one-quarter of all retail sales plus $1 per transaction (including the giveaways), Cripe said. The company, which started nine months ago and has raised $7.5 million, operates in New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. It plans to come to San Francisco this summer. Only 4,000 drivers nationwide have Cargo boxes, but the company hopes to have 20,000 active drivers by the end of the year. Uber and Lyft has been supportive, Cripe said, noting that Uber gives Cargo access to its application programming interface, which allows it to more easily sign up drivers. Neither company commented. Rooftop displays: San Franciscans have seen some Uber and Lyft cars around town with electronic rooftop billboards. Several sources said the company behind them is Palo Alto startup Ozzy Media. The company declined to comment, saying it was not ready to go public with its plans. “We’re mounting Internet-connected smart screens on top of ride-sharing cars such as Uber, Lyft, Instacart, etc. and serve targeted and measurable ads based on car’s location,” Ozzy says on a website that connects startups and investors. Ozzy’s own website tells drivers, “Earn money while you drive. Ozzy can help you supercharge your income while you go about your day.” Ozzy’s online contract says it pays drivers $400 a month. Rooftop displays, which are powered by a car’s battery, are expensive, costing up to $20,000 each, although leasing options are available. “They’re not just like a computer monitor mounted on top of your car,” said WaiveCar’s Honig, whose business model is different. “They need to be crash-tested and safety-tested, to make sure they don’t go flying off in case of an accident.” For rooftop displays, software is also needed to connect advertisers to willing drivers. “Uber/Lyft cars are an underutilized advertising space,” said David Pal, managing partner of Ads on Top, a Los Angeles company that makes software not only for car advertisements, but also for screens in restaurants, malls, kiosks and bus shelters. “They provide good opportunities to help local brands reach their customers.”    

source: san francisco chronicle

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