Vugo was one of the first companies on the rideshare advertising scene a few years ago and since that time, we’ve seen a plethora of other advertising companies come and go. Combined, these companies have raised millions of dollars, signed up thousands of drivers and it’s clear that the ‘rideshare advertising’ category has a lot of potential.
The industry is still pretty young though, and it can be hard to tell which companies are legit and which aren’t. Today, we’re going to take you through the top advertising companies that are paying drivers for everything from providing infotainment tablets to passengers to wrapping your car with an ad and putting a digital billboard up top. These companies won’t be for everyone but as you’ll see below, the income you can make is pretty substantial with some of these services. I’m plenty willing to sell out a little to make some extra money – after all, it’s all about working smarter, not harder.
The companies below are at various sizes and stages. Most claim to get drivers a few hundred extra dollars per month by placing ads on their cars.
Are Rideshare Drivers Allowed to Put Advertising on Their Cars?
In short, yes.
Since we’re independent contractors, Uber or Lyft have little direct control over how we decorate or customize our vehicles. Uber has even partnered with companies like Cargo, so it’s clear that they approve of some of these companies. And even if they do not directly state their approval, Uber and Lyft will NOT deactivate you for using them. I have never heard of this happening once in the past 5 years.
Both companies are getting sued left and right as the classification of drivers (employee vs independent contractor) debate has intensified, and I think they realize that directing your “contractors” to not do this would look really bad in court. That being said, there are a couple caveats.
If you use a car wrapping or billboard service, you may not pass inspection if you go to an Uber or Lyft lot. But you can always get your car inspected before wrapping or you can go to a virtual mechanic (like Rideshare Mechanic) and pass that way.
You can also run into some trouble with local authorities (particularly airports) for displaying ads on the exterior of your car. Make sure to check your local laws and regulations before trying this out.
Personally, I don’t care what Uber and Lyft think, and if they want me to remove ads from my vehicle they can go ahead and restore the rate cards to a living wage and go back to old-school surge.
Now, there are a few categories these will fall under. Let’s look at the top in each category.
In-Car Entertainment aka Tablet Category
In my mind, Vugo is the leader in the in-car entertainment category because they pretty much invented not just the tablet category of rideshare advertising, but the whole industry of rideshare advertising. We first started writing about Vugo back in March of 2015 and since then, they’ve spawned a wave of copycats, most are no longer around today. More recently their focus has shifted towards content partnerships to improve the passenger experience.
Part of the deal with Vugo is in-car entertainment like video games, apps, film shorts, sports, news and more optimized for passengers, making their overall experience better than being in your empty, Vugo-free car. But more importantly, they hand riders the proverbial remote control when it comes to content, so their experience is leaning more towards the “Netflix of the car’, which makes sense as their long game is providing content to bored riders in self-driving vehicles.
For its partners, Vugo guarantees:
- Robust targeting
- An affluent audience
- Quality analytics
- Customized campaigns
- TripIntent Technology® that goes beyond simple geofencing
What all that really means is Vugo provides content that is sure to be seen by riders while also earning drivers money. This kind of advertisement is displayed on a tablet in your vehicle where your passengers can see it and interact with it. You get a cut of the advertising revenue. I’m really excited by this idea because it gives advertisers so much geo-targeting power and that means more ad revenue for drivers. Vugo is focused on the NYC market at the moment, but welcomes drivers to signup for their waiting list.
Recently, Vugo won a First Amendment lawsuit in New York City, suing NYC because of Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) rules that prevented the placement of media and ads in rideshare vehicles. Thanks to that ruling, drivers in NYC are now legally allowed to place Vugo tablets in their vehicles, offering them the ability to earn more by doing what they’re already doing – driving. This ruling is likely responsible for the explosion in rideshare advertising growth we are seeing today, that and rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft seeking ways to become profitable.
You can listen to our podcast interview here with Vugo’s founder about how he started VUGO while being an Uber Driver.
#2 Play Octopus: A Bar-Trivia Gaming Tablet for Passengers
Play Octopus is another tablet-based advertising platform geared toward your passengers and they specialize in getting passengers to engage with the device via trivia games that came out recently. The passengers can play the games for free and are shown an advertisement every 2 or 3 steps they progress in the game.
Drivers receive 1 point for every ride they give (Play Octopus estimates this) and a half point for every game played in the backseat of their car. When you hit 250 points, you get $25. Play Octopus says that full-time drivers can earn $100 a month with this system.
Play Octopus is presently active in Austin, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Houston, New York, Richmond, VA, and Washington DC. They plan to expand to 20 or more cities in 2019, and you can sign-up (or join the waitlist) if you’re interested.
Read our Play Octopus Review here.
Car Billboards Category
Firefly is one of the more noticeable rideshare advertising companies since they slap a lighted billboard on top of your car, but they’re one of the only companies paying significant income to drivers every month. The company says drivers make around $300 per month, which is at the top of the list income-wise.
Firefly will install an LED sign on top of your car, and this sign will cycle through different targeted advertisements as you drive through the area. One thing I like about them is that they dedicate 10% of ads to local city and government messaging for PSAs.
As of the writing of this article, they boast making over 200 million impressions a month and have displayed over 650,000 hours of content played in over 40,000 square miles of coverage.
As far as cons for Firefly, one driver on Reddit who tested Firefly claimed the sign reduced gas mileage due to increased air resistance and made the car more difficult to clean.
This probably varies depending on the vehicle but I think it’s worth an extra $300 per month.
Car Wraps Category
Wrapify pays people to “wrap” their car in an advertisement. They cover the cost of installation and pay varies based on market, campaign, size of the wrap, and how much you drive.
According to the estimator on their site, a driver can earn anywhere between $264 and $452 per month. Wrapify is an ideal platform for full-time rideshare drivers because drivers have an opportunity to earn more than a flat rate on their advertising. They also like us because we drive a lot!
“We love seeing rideshare drivers leverage the extra revenue opportunities the Wrapify platform provides. Drivers love being able to earn an extra $300+ a month while they are already on the road. It’s a huge win for participating rideshare drivers.” – James Heller, CEO Wrapify
Read our Wrapify Driver Review here.
Carvertise is another car-wrap company that will pay a flat $100 a month for most of their campaigns. Sometimes they will up the ante to $200 a month or pay their drivers an hourly rate to strategically park their cars in high traffic areas (at around $30 per hour according to their site).
Carvertise has relatively low mileage requirements compared to other options, so it’s probably best suited for those who may do rideshare occasionally or for those who are down to advertise on a commute of 30 miles or more one day. Like Wrapify, they will pay for the installation and removal of the wrap.
Just for the simple fact that Wrapify could earn you more, that edges Carvertise out for the top spot in this category.
Phone App Category
Steereo is a new advertising company on the scene but they reach your passengers through listening. It is “a music discovery app powered by rideshare.” Steereo is made specifically for rideshare drivers, and drivers are paid to play new music for their passengers by using the Steereo app.
Artists pay to promote their music through the campaigns, and that is how drivers earn income when using Steereo while driving for rideshare. This way, the artists benefit as well as the drivers.
According to Steereo’s FAQs page, “We play music from today’s top genres, as well as specialty playlists that can be based on mood, time of day, and location. Genres include pop, hip-hop, indie, electronica, alternative, and more.” This means you and your passengers will always have something to listen to, no matter the mood or occasion.
Drivers can claim their earnings once they reach a minimum of $100 in earnings in the Steereo app. They are deposited via Stripe but we’ve heard from drivers who have had some issues with getting paid and had trouble with the app not streaming songs. I took a look at Steereo’s reviews in the app store and they’re pretty rough so if you do decide to try them out, make sure you have an open mind. I think this is a really cool concept since it’s so unobtrusive to the passenger experience (they won’t even know it’s different than a radio ad) but it’s clear that they’ve got some kinks to work out.
Honorable Mention: Freebird
This isn’t directly an advertising option but it is a way for drivers to earn some money by referring your passengers! Freebird is a cash back app for riders but drivers can actually get paid to refer passengers and the best part is that it’s a great app for passengers.
For every passenger you sign up, you will get $10 in cash and when they use your code, they get 2 free $5 off coupons for their next ride (even if they’re an existing Uber/Lyft rider). Download Freebird today and use promo code “RSG” to enroll and get your bonus sign up credit.
Read our Freebird Promo Code article for more info.
How to Tell If A Company Is Legit
There are unfortunately a lot of scam companies on sites like Craigslist that offer to pay several hundred (or even a thousand) dollars per week to advertise on your car. Generally, you can avoid these scam companies because real advertising companies:
- Will not ask you to pay any money upfront
- Will ask you about your driving habits (and may be a little selective)
- Require you have car insurance
- Have contact information on their website (not just a form)
- Won’t make an offer that sounds too good to be true
- Won’t have any strange requests involving cashiers checks, cryptocurrency, etc.
Most of the companies listed here will offer anywhere between an extra $100 to $250 per month in payment. So if you someone *magically* offering $400 a week to advertise on ANY car, then you can bet your barnacle the offer is fake.
Readers, have you tried any of these advertising options in your car? How have they worked out?
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-Paula @ RSG