Uber wants to irritate drivers with its own version of taxi TV

Forget your quiet Uber ride – the ride-hailing service just announced it tests in-car tablets specifically designed to show ads during your trip. Fortunately, the company is not yet rolling out the program on a large scale; it’s only testing it in San Francisco and Los Angeles to begin with.

So far, Uber says it’s partnering with more than 40 brands, including NBCUniversal, Heineken and United Artists Releasing for its new “Journey Ads.” It also created an advertising division to help build out this offering and plans to place more ads in the Uber Eats app, in emails, on digital storefronts and through car top ads — sort of digital billboard drivers can do on the roof. of their vehicles.

Lyft launched a similar ad arm in August and has already started showing ads on in-car tablets in vehicles in Los Angeles. However, the tablets don’t just show ads, as Lyft explains that riders can “track progress along their route, rate and tip drivers, and control their ride’s music through our partnership with iHeartRadio.” (Hopefully, Uber will do the same, as it will at least make the tablets more useful.) Lyft also says it will also add digital ad panels to its ebike stations, expand in-app ads, and run similar car-top ads. who calls it “Lyft halos.”

Still struggling to become profitable, Uber reported $382 million in positive cash flow for the first time in August. However, a new proposal from the Department of Labor could change the way it does business, potentially making it more difficult for services like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to classify certain employees as contractors. As a result, these companies may have to offer drivers new benefits and protections, such as minimum wages and overtime.