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Uber launches advertising unit to let marketers target ads based on where you go

<i>Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images</i><br/>Uber
Anadolu Agency
Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

By Catherine Thorbecke, CNN Business

Uber is launching an in-house advertising division and rolling out its own form of targeted digital ads as it seeks to develop new revenue sources.

The ridehailing giant announced the launch of its “enterprise-wide” advertising unit on Wednesday, saying it will be helmed by Amazon advertising veteran Mark Grether.

Uber at the same time unveiled its new in-app “Journey Ads” service, which lets marketers place ads within the Uber app to reach customers at each step on their trips. This means the customers will be served ads when they check to see how far away their driver is, or follow the route of their journey via the app.

In a statement, Grether said Uber has a global audience of customers who “tell us where they want to go and what they want to get.”

“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,” Grether added.

Tech giants like Meta and Google have long used the data they collect from users to target ads, despite some digital privacy advocates denouncing this behavior.

Users can opt out of targeted ads on the Uber app at any time, Grether told the Wall Street Journal.

The announcement comes after Lyft launched its own advertising business in August.

The news also comes in the shadow of the Biden administration proposing a new labor rule last week that could classify millions of gig workers as employees — serving a potential challenge to the low-cost models that have powered the growth of gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft.

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