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Uber programmatic buying
Jun 27, 2024

Uber opens the doors to programmatic buying

Chris Yu
Author Chris Yu

Uber has announced the expansion of Journey Ads to programmatic buying via its Rides app. Check out how the news potentially impacts programmatic strategies.

We’ve seen taxi cabs in some of the most famous cities displaying digital LED ads at the top of their vehicles. However, programmatic buying and rideshare advertising are kicking it up a notch this year. Prepare for rideshare vehicles to soon have digital ads of their own.

In an announcement made in mid-June, Uber is opening its doors to programmatic buying across its Rides app. This news comes as part of the ride-hailing app’s expansion of its proprietary advertising platform, Journey Ads (not to be confused with journey advertising). 

Launched back in 2022, Uber’s Journey Ads offers display and video ads paired with demographics-based and behavioral targeting along with campaign performance measurement. 

The feature was introduced to let advertisers target riders with their ads and promotions from the moment they request a ride on their app to when they arrive at their destination. However, that will soon change with programmatic advertising added to the mix. 

Good news for programmatic buying

Uber has formed a strategic partnership with several providers to utilize programmatic advertising technology, enhancing the effectiveness and accuracy of its marketing efforts. This partnership gives marketers more control over their digital campaigns and increases efficiency.

Uber’s Journey Ads expansion includes partnerships with demand-side platforms or DSPs such as Google’s Display & Video 360 and Yahoo DSP. 

Jillian Kranz, the General Manager of Rider Ads at Uber Advertisement, said “Journey Ads have proven strength in driving results for the thousands of brands we’ve worked with since launch. We can now extend these benefits to the programmatic buyers who prefer to activate through their DSPs of choice,

This expansion lets programmatic buyers in the U.S. and global markets purchase display and video ads on the app. As a result, they can target riders through three distinct phases of their trip. 

Additionally, Uber leverages first-party data from its riders (through its comprehensive user targeting profiles based on historical behavior across both Uber and Uber Eats) to help marketers more effectively target users with higher purchase intent. 

In an example provided by the company, clients could tap into food purchasers of quick service restaurants from Uber Eats or leverage curated personas, like fans of a certain rock band, to target their messaging to the intended audience.

The move comes as part of Uber’s continued efforts to build its advertising business, especially as the platform aims to reach $1 billion in ad revenue by the end of 2024. The company found that its Journey Ads platform experienced a rise in user favorability and purchase intent.

Potential impact on digital advertising

Uber’s expansion of their Journey Ads to programmatic buyers represents a significant opportunity for advertisers to leverage high-intent first-party data and target consumers effectively during their trips.  

With a tech giant such as Uber enhancing its programmatic buying capabilities on its platform, many of the industry’s top media buyers see this as great news and a huge opportunity. 

They acknowledge the value proposition of Journey Ads, highlighting the platform’s unique targeting capabilities and the potential for achieving significant campaign outcomes through programmatic activation.

As a result, we also expect to see an uptick in spending on various forms of digital advertising (such as mobile advertising and digital out of home advertising), specifically for the ridesharing industry. 

In addition, the other players in the industry are expected to follow suit such as Lyft and Curb in order to stay competitive in the market. Brands from similar industries such as delivery companies like Instacart could also follow the trend of investing in more programmatic buying capabilities for its vendors.

Final thoughts

With more opportunities for programmatic buyers to advertise on rideshare apps, we’ll be watching closely whether Uber’s announcement will be one of the biggest game-changers and booming trends in programmatic advertising for this year

Stay tuned as we await more details regarding the expansion and how it will impact the industry overall.


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