Uber’s Digital Ad Displays Are Coming to New York City Yellow Cabs
The Adomni-powered screens are active in five other markets
Published: April 2, 2021
Uber’s digital ad display screens are coming to New York City—but they won’t be on Uber vehicles. Current city regulations prohibit car-top advertising for rideshare vehicles, so the Uber OOH screens will outfit more than 3,000 taxicabs instead.
Elsewhere, Uber OOH—a partnership with the out-of-home ad-tech firm Adomni and screen provider Cargo Systems—is active in five U.S. markets: Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix and, as of this month, Los Angeles and Boston. In those cities, 7,500 Uber vehicles are outfitted with digital display ads, Adomni CEO Jonathan Gudai told Adweek in an interview Friday.
While New York City is not permitting Uber OOH in the city, the taxi trade association Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade (MTBOT) approached Uber with an opportunity to outfit 3,500 yellow cabs, more than a fourth of the total cabs in the city.
The entry into New York is now in motion after Uber signed a multi-year deal with the MTBOT and Creative Mobile Media, a digital media network serving taxicabs, though it still awaits formal approval from New York’s Taxi & Limousine Commission, which the parties expect in the coming months.
A long pandemic
Just a month before the pandemic, Uber announced it would deploy new digital screens atop its vehicle fleet, news first reported by Adweek.
The Uber-Adomni partnership was a big deal for out-of-home advertising, but neither company fully recognized that 2020 would be much more about stay-at-home than out-of-home.
“After exploring this idea for over a year now, we realized that the timing is perfect to launch this new ad network and we couldn’t ask for a better partner than Adomni,” Brett Baker, lead, Uber OOH, said at the time.
But the timing was far from perfect.
Uber reported a 14% dip in revenue in 2020 compared to the year prior. According to the IAB, the digital out-of-home market took a 43% hit.
Gudai told Adweek that Adomni was certainly disrupted, but said the company nevertheless enjoyed a “growth year” because of marketers seeking more programmatic options for their digital OOH buys.
Closing the whole loop
The Uber OOH rollout was certainly interrupted. Instead of being fully active in Atlanta, Dallas and Phoenix on April 1, campaigns were delayed until October. Plans to roll out in Boston and Los Angeles, expected for late 2020, weren’t realized until last month.
New York “wasn’t really on the roadmap,” Gudai said, noting the regulatory barriers for Uber vehicles, but the offer from MTBOT was enticing. It was a way into the city for Uber without deploying car-top advertising on its own fleet and a way for Adomni to reach its goals. (The company already has 20,000 digital screens in the city on sidewalks, subways, Times Square billboards and more.)
“The ability for us to extend to the streets, from our perspective, closes the whole loop,” Gudai said. “You then have the ability to tell a story across every single facet of a New Yorker’s daily life.”
With approval, Uber OOH will begin to install screens in May. By the fall, the companies expect to outfit 1,500 yellow cabs, though it will take until 2022 to install and activate all 3,500 vehicles.