Don’t worry, Uber WILL find a way to advertise to you

Uber has officially launched its advertising division and unveiled its in-app ad experience, Journey Ads, in an attempt to drive more revenue. The company said Wednesday it will sell ad space inside its ride-hailing and Uber Eats apps, as well as in-vehicle digital ads, sponsored mails and storefront ads.

Uber has historically tried to add on many different verticals, usually transportation-focused ones, to increase its revenue streams. But one by one, the company dropped those moonshots — Uber sold off its eVTOL unit Elevate to Joby Aviation, offloaded its Jump e-bikes to Lime and sold its self-driving car unit Uber ATG to Aurora. The company also spun out its robotics arm, which is now Serve Robotics.

But one tried and true and deeply American way to make some extra cash is through advertising. News publishers learned this long ago, Netflix is even doing it and now Uber has cottoned onto the rather annoying profit pool — just a few months after Lyft created its own media division focused on in-app ads.

During Uber’s investor day in February, the company said it hoped to grow its ads business into an more than $1 billion revenue opportunity by 2024, riding on the ad-weary eyes of Uber’s 122 million-strong monthly active users. The kind of data Uber likely has on its riders should, over time, lead to more bespoke ads selection, but for now, my Uber ride last night featured a sports ad, which only made me like the NFL less.

Headed by ex-Amazon Advertising executive Dr. Mark Grether, Journey Ads has already secured over 40 brand partners, including NBCUniversal, Heineken and United Artists Releasing, Uber said. Riders won’t immediately be inundated with a range of ads when they open the app — instead, Uber is guaranteeing brands have “100% share of voice during the entire trip,” which the company said resulted in two to six times the brand-performance lift after customers were exposed to the ad content for about two minutes, compared to other benchmarks.

Aside from Journey Ads, the in-app ad pillar, brands can also still purchase ad options like sponsored listings in Uber Eats, sponsored emails, post-checkout ads, in-menu ads and car-top ads. Uber is also doing an in-car tablet advertising pilot in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

And of course, it wouldn’t be an ad business without those juicy insights. Uber is promising not only to help brands connect with consumers at “relevant points throughout their journeys or transactions” but also to provide reporting and analysis of how well those ads are doing to capture the attention of all the movers and eaters out there.

“We have a global audience of valuable, purchase-minded consumers who, as part of our core business, tell us where they want to go and what they want to get,” said Grether in a statement. “While these consumers are making purchase decisions and waiting for their destination or delivery we can engage them with messages from brands that are relevant to their purchase journeys. And with 1.87 billion trips last quarter, that means we can connect advertisers to consumers on average five times per month across rides and delivery.”