Are Ad-Supported Rides the Next Big Thing in Ridesharing?

Woman booking on a ridesharing appThe idea of offering ad-supported Uber rides doesn’t look impossible. This concept, in fact, could be the next step in the industry’s track towards decreasing prices. Offering ad-supported rides that can shoulder part or the entire cost of a ride would lead to a drop in prices and increase market demand and growth. Moreover, the decrease in prices could also lead to various benefits, such as shorter wait times, busier drivers, and more rides.

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Chen came up with an idea called UberZero, a complimentary, ad-supported tier of service that’s more affordable than Uber’s ridesharing service called UberPool as well as UberX. Chen proposes to put ad units on the smartphone of passengers, in the dead time while waiting for their ride and when they’re on their ride. These ad units then connect with the large existing markets for video ads, app installations, and lead generation. Individually or combined, they can make a big dent into the cost of a single ride. Some cases might offer a discount while others could make the ride completely free.

Mockups for Ad-Supported Rides

Chen collaborated with user experience designer Chris Liu to come up with a few mockups for potential ad units to show the feasibility of ad-supported ridesharing. They first looked at tapping into the paid app installs ecosystem. They found it as the most obvious opportunity given that a majority of the $10 billion mobile ad market is from driving app installations. This mockup involves the customer downloading and using an app to get a buck or two off their booked ride. It’s identical to the incentivized advertising model where the user receives a reward for completing an action. The reward, in this scenario, is a discount for an app installation.

While paid apps can offer discounts, the possibility of making an entire ride free is possible with the lead generation mockup. Chen finds this idea an intriguing possibility as it’s common for advertisers to shell out $10 for an email address. Software as a Service (SaaS) and Business-to-Business (B2B) advertisers would even offer a higher amount — from $30 to $50 in some cases. The mechanism for this mockup is straightforward. The advertiser would sponsor the free ride, and the ad would feature a call to action to get the passenger to sign up using his or her email.

Practical Obstacles in Ad-Supported Rides

While these mockups look great, they are not without drawbacks. The most obvious issue is that it’s not feasible to make all rides free all the time. Another issue is that advertisers are not going to pay passengers to install the same apps repeatedly. Obviously, there’s going to be a limit set on these things.

Even if ads can’t completely offer a free ridesharing service, they can at least offer discounts on each ride. Such discounts are vital due to the increasing competitiveness of transportation network companies. Moreover, whether the ride is free or discounted, ridesharing consumers and services stand to gain ground if they are willing to accept the use of targeted advertising.

Speaking of targeted advertising, if you’re looking to advertise within the rideshare community, Rideplay TV can give you what you need to tap into the captive, exclusive demographic of rideshare passengers. Apart from creatively broadcasting your brand, we have an interactive screen that sends text message specials to engage your audience and deliver value and entertainment to the riders.

Visit our website or call us today to discuss your campaign.