Lyft keeps looking for ways to go back to the future to become…taxis. First it was tips–and the social media-style passenger rating system that made them as good as mandatory. Now Lyft is going for a modern take on rooftop advertising.
Reuters reports that Lyft has acquired Halo Cars, a startup that lets drivers for app-based car services run taxi-style ads on top of their vehicles. A spokesperson for the ridesharing giant didn’t outline the intentions for the deal, but Axios speculated that Halo’s small two-city footprint meant Lyft was interested acquiring the company for its media division.
Halo has a fairly simple business model: full-time, highly rated drivers who signed up (applications are closed due to high demand) got up to $400 per month for agreeing to carry a connected, video-capable ad installation on their cars while they worked. Effectively, the promos are smart outdoor ads on wheels — metrics are build in to let advertisers know where their ads are being shown and how many pedestrians are likely to have seen them. Marketers can even ask to shut off ads when a driver is near certain areas, so an ad for a cannabis dispensary won’t run while the car is picking up at a school..
This doesn’t guarantee that Lyft rides will have ads on top. Such a move wouldn’t be surprising, though. Lyft lost $651.8 million in its fiscal 2019. Car-top ads could subsidize rides and help the company turn a profit. But will it help drivers?.Halo’s ads could help drivers make more money without fare hikes–if the dangers of low pay to sustainability are among Lyft’s driving business concerns. But it’s also possible that Lyft could simply pocket the ad money, and assume there will always be drivers who will take the gig.
And when there are no more drivers, there will still be digital signage.