American ride-hailing giant, Uber, is reportedly piloting in-car tablets that would display advertisements as well as value-added services to users in India. The program would be piloted in Delhi and Mumbai under its global rollout.
The tablets, which would be placed behind the front seat and face the passengers, are a way to monetize the ride time and earn additional revenue by showing users ads.
According to sources, a lot of critical engineering work is being done by Uber's Indian engineering team for the pilot, which is a global product. The tablets will be installed in cabs in the US first and then brought into other markets like India.
Uber will be able to run third-party ads as well as cross-sell its services, such as Uber Eats through the display tablets.
According to reports, the advertisements would be based on the destination, which means if a passenger books a ride to the airport, they can be shown ads that sell food coupons that can be used at airport food courts.
A spokesperson for Uber has confirmed the development, but has not divulged much details about the project as it is still in its early stages.
The move is not something new, as Uber’s competitor in the US, Lyft, stated earlier in August that it will be setting up a media division for monetizing users’ time via in-car ads.
Tech firms are increasingly focusing on advertisement revenues as a way of improving unit economics. In 2021, Amazon earned over $30 billion from ads alone.
Uber’s pilot follows the company’s increasing focus to leverage India’s engineering talent for global products and comes amid floating reports of a potential merger or sale with its Indian competitor Ola. The two have previously denied such reports.
Earlier, Andrew Macdonald, Senior VP of Mobility and Business Operations at Uber, stated that the tech firm was launching and testing out several innovations in India, where it currently has around 2,000 employees with plans to increase that count by a further 500.
It is pertinent for Uber to get its product out faster than its rival Lyft, as once Lyft’s tab is installed first, it will be difficult for Uber to ask drivers to install Uber’s tabs.
Leading the company’s $1 billion advertising efforts will be former Amazon executive, Mark Grether.