Uber Technologies Inc. has launched a new advertising unit that will enable brands to deliver ads to the company’s 122 million monthly active users.

Uber announced the launch of the unit today. According to the Financial Times, the company is seeking to grow its annualized ad revenue to $1 billion by 2024. For the second quarter, Uber reported annualized gross ad bookings of $350 million.

“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 Mark Grether, the general manager of Uber’s new ad unit. “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.”

Uber will enable brands to deliver ads to consumers in more than a half-dozen different ways. Through a service called Car Top Ads, brands can display promotions on a display installed atop an Uber vehicle. Uber will also make it possible to display promotions inside vehicles using tablets attached to the back of seats.

Uber’s new ad unit plans to roll out several in-app advertising tools. According to the company, many of those tools are set to become available as part of its Uber Eats food delivery app.

Restaurants will gain the ability to promote menu items in the Uber Eats interface, as well as deliver shopping recommendations to consumers after they complete a purchase. A new Sponsored Emails service will make it possible to deliver promotions to users’ inboxes. Additionally, Uber plans to roll out an advertising service focused on consumer packaged goods companies.

Uber said today that more than 40 brands have partnered with its new ad unit. Those brands include NBCUniversal Media LLC, PepsiCo Inc. and other big names. Uber has made its advertising platform available in several dozen countries and plans to further expand availability over the next year. 

“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,” Grether said.

Uber is launching the ad unit following several months of rapid revenue growth. Uber’s sales increased by 105% last quarter, to $8.1 billion, thanks to strong consumer demand across its transportation and food delivery divisions. The company’s freight business, which helps enterprises manage merchandise shipments, more than quadrupled its sales during the quarter.

Uber rival Lyft Inc. launched its own ad division in August. The company will enable brands to place ads atop cars, as well as run in-app marketing campaigns. Lyft claims that its advertising services are up to 60% more cost-efficient than competing offerings.  

Photo: Uber

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