Rideshare driving is becoming more difficult – rates are declining, bonuses are changing, and promotions have been reduced drastically in most cities. What’s a driver to do? Become a NASCAR driver – in terms of advertising on their vehicles. Senior RSG contributor Christian Perea breaks down how you can earn an extra $500 – if you’re willing to!
In 2014, I was in a parking lot with other drivers, waiting for pings, in San Diego at 1 a.m. It was dead out, but even after a Lyft price cut, we compulsively checked our phones for requests. Then one of the veteran drivers uttered something that ended up become eerily prescient. He said, “mark my words – this is over. They’re gonna race to the bottom on prices until they can collect 50%+ of the fare and we’re all just driving each other around with advertisements on our cars like cabs. Everything will become like a cab again” (loosely quoted from memory).
I’m a fairly cranky and skeptical guy. However, Ralf, the veteran driver, was at least twice as cranky and skeptical (and classy). Ralf was also right about every prediction he made for this industry.
There are now a litany of advertising and marketing companies competing for the space in your rideshare vehicle. For the right price, they will wrap your car in display ads, install a headrest mounted tablet that displays ads to your rider, or even beam advertisements directly into strangers eyeballs with a window mounted projector that turns your window into A SCREEN!
The Side-Hustle For Your Side-Hustle Industry Is Blowing Up
We’ve put together a list of the most exciting companies to earn some extra money through while rideshare driving.
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. If you combined all of the options you could conceivably cover every inch of your car (minus the windshield) in advertisements like you drive for NASCAR.
But First, Are You Even Allowed To Do This?
In short, yes.
Since we are all independent contractors, Uber or Lyft have very little direct control over how we decorate or customize our vehicles. In the early days of rideshare, a few drivers DID get deactivated for placing ads on the exterior of their car but this stopped once lawsuits around the classification of drivers as employees vs. contractors intensified and Uber/Lyft realized that directing your “contractors” to not do this would look really bad in court.
In fact, Uber and Lyft have even gone as far as purchasing ads from the companies listed below to display their own branding on these cars:
You can run into some trouble though with local authorities (particularly airports) for displaying ads on the exterior of your car. So make sure to check your local laws and regulations.
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.
Wrapify: Wrap Your Car In Ads
Wrapify pays people to “wrap” their car in an advertisement. They cover the cost of installation and their 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
Carvertise is a car-wrap competitor to Wrapify and they 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 more 30 miles or more one day. Like Wrapify, they will pay for the installation and removal of the wrap.
FireFly: A Live LED Billboard For Your Roof
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.
Firefly is still keeping a pretty low profile in the cities it operates as it’s still technically in beta, but they’re all over LA and San Francisco. Several of the test drivers during the beta test reported making around $121.00 every two weeks. Others report earning over $300
The Sign Might Be A Bit… Needy
One driver on Reddit who tested Firefly claimed the sign was plagued with problems. It reduces gas mileage due to increased air resistance (on top of the vehicle no less) and makes the car very difficult and more expensive to clean. One driver said the sign also affected their radio reception, rendering it useless.
Additionally, a driver I spoke to in the middle of doing a DoorDash delivery told me that he makes around $200 a month with the sign and confirmed that the sign decreased his gas mileage while also making the vehicle more difficult to clean.
Depending on the vehicle though, it may not be worth the extra money to deal with the headache of paying extra to get your car washed or reduced gas mileage. Those are two big variable costs in this business that I don’t want to mess with.
Grabb-It Labs: Turns Your Window Into (Yet Another) Screen
Grabb-It Labs is a Y-Combinator startup that is still in stealth/beta mode. They will pay you to install a laser projector in your vehicle that projects ads onto your passenger window when you don’t have a ride or are parked. It turns your window into a giant LED screen.
According to David Valverde Vargas at Grabb-It, full-time drivers can earn around $300 a month on the platform and are paid by the hour. Grabb-It is only available in San Francisco right now but they have plans to expand to New York and Los Angeles soon. If you’re interested in signing up, you can get on their waitlist before they come to your city.
Personally, the last thing I think the world needs more of is more display screens. It sets off all of the “the future kind of sucks, man” alarms in my head, which is a pretty good historical indicator that this company will be a massive success.
Cynicism aside, humans will just learn to ignore this form of advertising like we do all other ads and it might be really useful to leverage these displays in the real world for major events, active emergencies, or even just cool and creative ways to deliver ads. Let’s do it!
Play Octopus: A 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 games. 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 Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, 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.
Although CarGo isn’t selling ads, I’ve added it to this list because it’s still competing for space in your car to offer you an extra income stream. Cargo will send you a box of snacks to sell or giveaway to your passenger.
This is Cargo’s pay structure right now:
- $1.00 for each transaction.
- 25% of and retail item sales.
- $5 bonus for 5 items/wk
- $10 bonus for 10 items/wk
- $5 bonus for 5 items/mo
- $10 bonus for 10 items/mo
- $20 bonus for 40 items/mo
- $50 bonus for 100 items/mo
+ Tips from passengers on the Cargo checkout screen.
Cargo works by having passengers use your your box number to order snacks. Every time someone orders a snack, you get a text message telling you to pass over the goods. I suggest waiting until the end of the ride or pulling over to pass them out. When you run out of snacks due to being active on their platform, they will automatically resupply you.
CarGO is the real deal and they’ve raised $30 million in funding from investors in high-profile entertainment, gaming and technology industries, including Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Twitch’s former CSO Colin Carrier, media investor Vivi Nevo, former NBA commissioner David Stern, Def Jam Records CEO Paul Rosenberg, Steve Aoki, and others. They have an official partnership with Uber and you can sign up with Cargo using our link here.
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.
Going Full NASCAR With Rideshare Ads
If I went back to driving full-time right now, I would sell and stretch every inch of my car. Part of that would be decking myself out in this side-hustle-for-my-side-hustle attire. I’d wrap the whole car, get a CarGO, all of it. I don’t care. As much as I could get away with.
If you stretch every inch of your car you could potentially get:
- $300 from Wrapify
- $240 from FireFly
- $250 from Grabb-It
- $100 from Play Octopus
- $100 from CarGO
That’s about an extra week’s worth of expense-free pay for most drivers. Hell, if you’re embarrassed to have a car with a bunch of ads on it because it will hurt your ego, just put that $990 towards a lease on a new M3. That’ll make you feel better.
Readers, would you or have you placed advertising on your car?
Track Your Miles for Free with Stride DriveSmart drivers know they need to track their mileage from start to finish. Stride Drive is a free app you can use to track your mileage, which will help you save money at tax time.
-Christian @ RSG
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