More than a year after RideAlong Media debuted in rideshare vehicles across Dallas, co-founder Joe VanOflen has taken the in-car advertising concept nationwide.
What started as a closed loop of pre-selected advertisements that ran on tablets on the seatback of Uber and Lyft vehicles has morphed into a self-guided and interactive in-car directory powered by Google Places.
Since launching the new concept in June, Dallas-based RideAlong Media has expanded to 15 states.
“They can look through the directory and see what businesses are within miles of their car and that directory refreshes as the car moves,” VanOflen said. “So anywhere in the country that directory is always accurate and current within a few miles of the car.”
All bars, restaurants, and retail shops will be shown as long as they are listed on Google Places. Passengers can narrow their focus to just bars, restaurants, or stores.
Through the RideAlong Media app, businesses can buy upgraded profiles with more information. The profiles come at different levels with a basic one for $7 and a multi-media profile for $14 a month. The upgraded profile allows businesses to send push notifications to nearby vehicles with special promotions.
ANOTHER REVENUE SOURCE FOR RIDESHARE DRIVERS
The drivers benefit because they get a percentage of the monthly fee. They are encouraged to solicit businesses to upgrade their profiles. RideAlong Media benefits local businesses, provides another revenue source to rideshare drivers, and an interactive experience to passengers.
The drivers have insurance costs, wear and tear, and often buy snacks and water for the passengers, which cuts into their bottom line.
“Driver’s margins are really tough,” said VanOflen, who also drives for Lyft. “The economics are really not that fantastic.”
The app works with any tablet as long as it’s connected to the cellular network. The mounting hardware to put the tablet on the seatback can be purchased online.
“We tried to make it something that doesn’t cost the driver a lot of money to provide an interesting amenity to their passengers,” VanOflen said.
“We tried to make it something that doesn’t cost the driver a lot of money to provide an interesting amenity to their passengers.”
RideAlong Media also added a selfie feature in the app.
“We’re starting to see pictures come through of passengers in the back of these Uber and Lyft cars so now they can send the photo to themselves,” VanOflen said.
He declined to release the number of drivers using the RideAlong Media platform, but said growing that number is their main focus right now.
“We know that we have to grow the number of drivers on the road in order for it to be significant for local businesses,” VanOflen said. “The more people see it, the more comfortable they’re going to be with it.”
HELPING LOCAL BUSINESSES ATTRACT CUSTOMERS
Local businesses such as The Nodding Donkey and State & Allen Kitchen+Bar have been using RideAlong Media since the beginning. Cafe Momentum will be getting an upgraded profile soon. The nonprofit restaurant works to reduce recidivism among at-risk youth through a paid internship program in a real-world kitchen setting.
“It’s a captive audience for a few minutes where you can get your message across,” said Laura Gonzalez, general manager for State & Allen. “It seems like a no-brainer. We all use Ubers several times a week.”
“It’s a captive audience for a few minutes where you can get your message across.”
It could help people discover a new local dive bar that’s off the main McKinney Avenue strip, she said. Soon, her restaurant will start using the new flash promos.
“I think that’s going to be really great for us, particularly on our slower days where we can flash sales to get people in the door,” Gonzalez said.
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