Driving adoption: Why mobile video is critical to Lyft’s advertising mix


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A screenshot from Lyft's video ad.

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“I see no reason why video with mobile isn’t one of the most explosive forms of media over the next 12-36 months.”

That’s Kira Wampler, CMO of the popular ride-sharing service Lyft, at this week’s VB Mobile Summit in San Francisco. Wampler joined Zain Jaffer, CEO of video ad platform Vungle, on stage for a chat about video’s role in brand advertising.

The two companies have teamed up this year to deliver Lyft ads to mobile app users who might be in need of a ride.

“Your mobile device is always on you,” says Wampler. “[Video] can be relevant to where you’re standing. It can be social, something shared with you. As more tools come out that allow you to better discover, we’ll continue to see more people consume.”

Advertising that bridges education, awareness, and performance

For Lyft, running video ads on mobile was an obvious choice to attract new riders and educate the market on ridesharing. While ‘catching a Lyft’ may be commonplace in the company’s hometown of San Francisco, the average American isn’t sold on the concept.

Part of Lyft’s strategy is to change this public perception.

“When I grew up, getting in a car with a stranger was something your parents told you not to do,” said Wampler. “We have to educate people on what ridesharing is. But, at the same time we have to measure performance overall…With video, we buy on a performance basis and will continue, but we see video as hybrid tool of awareness and performance.”

Jaffer says that’s precisely mobile video’s sweet spot.

“For performance advertisers, it’s about driving installs and ROI. Getting your brand across in 15 or 30 seconds, that’s where video has power over pictures.”

Helping to lead mobile for consumer brands

Today, mobile advertising is mainly composed of gaming apps, says Jaffer. The entrance of companies like Lyft will diversify inventory and by doing so, ratchet up the consumer experience.

“Let’s say you’re playing Sega’s Sonic Dash,” he explains. “You hit an obstacle and the game gives players an option to watch an ad to revive the user. That’s a great opportunity to show people a brand ad – they’re going to be more engaged because they’ve chosen to watch it.”

The transition in ad dollars, however, is slow to come. While many brands have embraced online advertising, only 34% of advertisers polled in 2014 planned to move money from TV to mobile.

This makes Lyft’s innovative approach all the more important. “Advertising is big industry, but when you get advertisers like Lyft it changes the dynamic and you get a much bigger market size.”

The mobile industry in progress: An opportunity for experimentation

“We wanted to run Lyft ads during peak hours when people were riding it,” said Jaffer. What we found is, people don’t download and use the app immediately. The phone has so much potential, so much data we can tap into, and get more intelligent with campaigns.”

For Wampler, this experimentation is just part of the process.

“As a marketer, you should be using a blend of art and science. The art is about deeply understanding consumers, drawing insights out and using insights to build hypothesis around which you test. When you test, you’re using A/B, you’re using science to understand what’s performing and for whom….The key message for marketers is blending these two together.”

Next on the horizon

All of this data, experimentation, and the shift in mobile consumption is changing the future of advertising, says Jaffer.

“With performance advertisers, it’s about driving installs and ROI. We’ll soon be living in a world where everything is measurable. Advertisers will buy because they want ROI and that’s how ads should be.”

Kira Sparks is Content Marketing Manager at Vungle. Kira works to communicate the value of the start-up’s breakthrough video ad-serving technology as well as provide education and insight to its community of mobile app publishers and advertisers. 


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