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Uber riders, in-car video ads are coming

Uber riders could soon have video ads playing in their face when they’re traveling from A to B.

The ridesharing giant said on Wednesday it’s trialing in-car ads played on tablets as part of broader plans to rake in extra cash through advertising.

In-car ads are already playing on tablets in some Uber cars in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and if the pilot goes well we can expect to see it rolled out across the country and possibly beyond.

“Journey Ads,” as Uber’s in-car ads initiative is called, has so far partnered with 40 brands that include NBCUniversal, Heineken, and United Artists.

Uber describes the in-car ads as “an engaging way for brands to connect with consumers throughout the entire ride process,” though how riders feel about having ads played during their journey remains to be seen.

Uber recently set up a dedicated ads team under former Amazon ad executive Dr. Mark Grethe. Besides in-car ads, Uber also plans to put more ads in the Uber and Uber Eats apps — including ads within menus — and also launch sponsored emails in which businesses can promote exclusive offers for Uber and Uber Eats customers. Digital billboards that drivers stick on the roof of their car during working hours are also part of Uber’s plans.

“Through our advertising division, we can help leading brands grow their relationships with consumers by connecting them at a moment when a customer is uniquely attentive,” Grethe said in a release.

Uber’s push into ads comes just a couple of months after ridesharing rival Lyft created a new team to double down on efforts to pull in revenue through advertising. It’s already utilizing in-car tablets after launching a pilot program in Los Angeles last year. It’s now being expanded to Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

Besides ads, Lyft’s tablets also allow riders to track journey progress, rate and tip drivers, and control the music of their ride through its partnership with iHeartRadio.

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Trevor Mogg
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