Lyft Provides Businesses With White-Label Ride-Hailing Service

What Happened
Lyft has launched a dispatch developer program to let brands and businesses integrate its ride-hailing service into their own services. By providing a white-labelled ride-hailing service, Lyft allows service brands to provide their customers with rides operated and controlled by brands themselves independent of Lyft. According to Lyft, this program aims to provide brands with greater flexibility by offering “the ability to request on-demand and scheduled rides without the need for a smartphone or Lyft account.” One Call Care Management and Logisticare, two businesses specializing in health care transportation, is already using this dispatch program to help patients get around.

What Brands Need To Do
Developers have long had the option to integrate Lyft’s service into third-party apps, but this new program will give them control over the supply side of the ride-hailing service and own the entire experience from billing to notifications, thus controlling the whole customer experience instead of relying on Lyft or other third-party ride-hailing services. Brands can use this to drive traffic to their local stores or events, but the bigger opportunity lies the possibility of integrating this on-demand service into connected devices to bring seamless, automated ride-hailing into new areas.

For example, a hotel brand can use this to set up a system where rides are automatically requested when the guests lock the door of their room. As more and more devices comes online, brands need to figure out how to leverage programs like this Lyft one to provide an optimized customer experience.


Source: VentureBeat

Sony Taps Lyft To Promote Ghostbuster With Themed Rides

What Happened
Lyft will be giving out Ghostbuster-themed rides as part of a Sony Pictures’ promotion for the upcoming reboot. For a limited time in the first two days of July, lucky Lyft users in five U.S. cities will be able to request a Ghostbuster-themed ride, complete with the Cadillacs from the original 1984 movie, drivers that are dressed up as characters from the movie, and Hostess Twinkies and Hi-C Ecto Cooler – two products featured in the original movie. Riders can also enter a sweepstakes for a chance to attend the L.A. premiere of the new movie.

Why Brands Should Care
While this campaign seems to be directly inspired by Warner Bros. using themed Uber rides to promote Max Max: Fury Road last summer, it stands out with the integration of the two third-party brands featured in the original movie. As the lure of experiential marketing starts to catch on, we expect to see more brands, especially those in entertainment and auto, work with ride-hailing apps or other on-demand services to attract interested consumers with unique branded experiences. Also, brands should look out for opportunities to integrate relevant products into their campaign to enrich the experience as Sony did with Twinkies and Hi-C.


Source: AdWeek

Header image courtesy of Lyft’s YouTube

Google, Ford, And Uber Team Up To Lobby For Driverless Cars

What Happened
Google, Ford, Volvo, Uber, and Lyft announced on Tuesday that they are forming a coalition to speed up the introduction of self-driving cars to the market. The new lobbying group, named the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, aims to push for federal actions that accelerate the development of driverless cars and promises to “work with lawmakers, regulators, and the public to realize the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles.”

In related news, reports surfaced today suggest that Google’s self-driving car is “close to graduating from X.” Basically, this means its parent company Alphabet no longer considers its driverless car program as an experimental moonshot project, but one that is about ready to transition into a standalone business. Meanwhile, Volvo is reportedly planning to test its driverless cars on some public streets in London next year.

Why Brands Should Care
The developments in driverless cars are an important market trend that The Lab has been keeping a close tab on (and included in the 2020 section of our Outlook 2016) due to the incredible amount of new media time it can potentially free up. If and when driverless cars hit the mainstream market, it would enable media owners and brand advertisers to visually connect with consumers on the go through in-car media such as digital video and video gaming.


Source: The Verge

Lyft Surprises With “Bieber Mode”

What Happened
Popular ride-sharing service Lyft has teamed up with Justin Bieber in a rather odd bit of cross-promotion. Request a Lyft ride under the designated “Bieber Mode” starting this Thursday through Nov. 19 and you will receive an offer to download the Canadian pop singer’s new album for half-off.

Although this partnership between Lyft and Bieber may seem a bit “out there,” it is important to note that Lyft and its arch rival Uber are certainly no stranger to this kind of stunt marketing, Back in May, Uber launched a brief cross-promotion with Mad Max: Fury Road where Uber drivers in Seattle dressed up as characters from the movie. Similarly, Lyft offered Back To The Future-themed rides for one day last month in New York City to celebrate the movie’s legacy. In February, Lyft also tried a guerilla marketing campaign which graffitis hopscotch-style ads on some sidewalks of San Francisco.

What Brands Need To Do
Unlike these aforementioned campaigns designed to court publicity and create buzz, this new “Bieber Mode” marks Lyft’s first entry into a direct sales campaign, where album purchases will be directly attributed to rides. Random as this partnership may seem, it does point to new creative ways for brands to promote their products via popular on-demand services and reach consumers with value offers in unexpected scenarios.


Source: AdWeek

How Macy’s And Starbucks Are Delivering The On-Demand Economy

What Happened
Earlier today, Starbucks announced a partnership with ride-sharing service Lyft, which includes a plan to reward Lyft drivers and users in the states with Starbucks reward points as part of its loyalty program. Similarly, national department store chain Macy’s is also teaming up with  Deliv, a Menlo Park, CA-based startup that offers on-demand delivery services, to expand same-day delivery to several new U.S. markets this summer.

With the continuous rise of the on-demand economy comes a slew of new services that present easy gateways for brands to get in on the trend and the changing consumer behaviors. In both scenarios here, a big-name national brand partners with an up-and-coming on-demand service to leverage it into expanding its existing service at a cost-effective way that also benefits the customers. In return, those lesser-known, on-demand services get introduced to a large number of mainstream consumers while also gaining legitimacy.

What Brands Should Do
Brands, especially those in retail and CPG, would be smart to consider exploring similar partnerships with compatible on-demand services that could help enhance their brand value.


Source: Reuters & GeekWire

SXSW 2015: Highlights From The Keynotes

Every SXSW Interactive features notable speakers on provocative topics, this year spanning everything from ride sharing to “mind clones.” We’ve identified three important themes for marketers:

  1. Empathetic design takes center stage
    Paola Antonelli, senior curator for MoMA, kicked off her keynote on the future of design with a shout-out to the rise of empathetic design. A user-centered design approach that focuses on the user’s feelings toward a product, empathy-driven design can provoke emotion, influence user behavior, and create strong connection. Paired with the right metrics, it can generate measurable intimacy that brands can benefit from.
  2. Ride sharing on the rise
    Logan Green, co-founder and CEO of Lyft, was reluctant to talk much about his major competitor Uber, but he did have a lot to share about his vision for the future of driving. He believes that the spreading practice of ride sharing has enabled more affordable, reliable and memorable transportation while boosting the local economy, and that on-demand car services like Lyft will make car ownership “unnecessary” in the future.
  3. Mobile reigns supreme
    Directly or indirectly, all five presenters this year touched on the impact of the ubiquitous connectivity aided by mobile devices. For instance, the first thing highlighted by Astro Teller, head of Google[x], was the recent success of its Loon project, in which Google has tested high-altitude balloons to provide Internet access to rural and remote areas. The paramount challenge for brands in this “mobile age” will be how to gracefully capitalize on the connection established by smartphones and wearable devices.

SXSW 2015: The Six Most-Talked About Digital Brand Activations

As our time here at the legendary interactive festival winds down, here is a look back at the 10 most talked-about brand activations:

  1. Studio uses Tinder to promote Ex Machina
    Some festival-goers using Tinder were matched with Ava, a 25-year-old Tinder bot created to promote Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, which premiered at SXSW.
  1. Meerkat breaks out
    FOMO is never higher than during SXSW, making this live-streaming app the perfect way to instantly drop in on celebrities, founders, and brands during the festival.
  1. Mophie uses St. Bernards to search and rescue owners with near-dead devices
    Through a partnership with the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation, nine full-size dogs and three puppies were used to deliver Mophie chargers—stored inside brandy barrel necklaces—to attendees in dire need of a charge.
  1. Lyft integrates One Touch PayPal into its interface
    As part of a promotional campaign during SXSW, riders who paid with PayPal received a $5 discount on their first ten rides as well as a chance to hitch a ride in a Ferrari 458 Italia, 1963 Bentley, Tesla Model S, or another noteworthy ride.
  1. Game of Thrones allows attendees to create digital art
    GoT encouraged attendees step on a stage, grab a (wooden) sword, and then go nuts on digital targets.
  1. USA Networks leverages beacons at SXSW for the “Mr. Robot” premiere
    The network created custom beacon alerts at various locations through the official SXSW app, rewarding festival-goers with free food and drinks, courtesy of “Mr. Robot.”


Four Major Brand Activations To Look Forward To At SXSW 2015

It’s SXSW Interactive time again, and the Lab will be in Austin covering the latest developments. The buzz is already beginning, though, with major companies looking to make an impact at an event typically associated with startups:

  1. McDonald’s Hopes To Win Millennials Back
    McDonald’s will be hosting a charging area, dubbed the “Fry-Fi Station”, as well as food truck, street performances, live music, and a lounge equipped with WiFi and TVs streaming coverage of the panels. The fast food company will also be hosting three pitch sessions to showcase the company’s commitment to digital innovation. However, McDonald’s has already attracted negative press by initially opting to not pay bands to perform.
  2. Twitter Plans to Boost Brand Presence
    Twitter has kept a pretty low profile at SXSW for the past few years, with a small pop up-space showcasing ad content and networking with potential partners. Glen Brown, head of content and partnerships, would not reveal any specifics about what the messaging service has up its sleeve for this year, but he did reveal plans to increase brand presence and share a new native video strategy.
  3. New Transportation Options With LyftLine and “Magic Mode”
    In addition to allowing multiple riders to share a car with LyftLine, the company is also unveiling a SXSW-dedicated promotion called “Magic Mode” that will allow attendees to request stylish rides including a 1963 Bentley, 1960’s era mini cooper, a Tesla Model S, and a Range Rover.
  4. PayPal Supports Start Ups
    PayPal is launching a new contest this year that will let startups pitch to shark tank’s Daymond John. The winner will receive one-on-one consultations and $30,000.


On-demand Cars’ Huge Impact On Taxi Business

The taxi business is being impacted severely by competing transportation networks: in July, average trips by taxis in San Francisco, home to on-demand car services Uber and Lyft, were reportedly only one-third of trips in March 2012. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is doing its best to help taxi drivers stay in business, but the trend towards on-demand services seems all but inevitable at this point.

What’s Next For The Sharing Economy

From car rides to groceries, apps like Uber and Instacart have helped fostering a new service market for connecting consumers with similar needs to share a service together. Born out of such market demand, the booming sharing economy is set out to transform the way many service industries conduct their business. But could we take this sharing concept one step further and apply it to big data?

By default, matching another person in your proximity to share a service with requires sharing a lot of personal information. And an economy supported by big data sharing would work seamlessly and even anticipatorily across different service platforms. Despite the potential convenience it may provide, this would most likely be a hard sell to the consumers as privacy concerns persist. Nevertheless, as the sharing economy continues to grow, sooner or later the valuable data it collects will presumably be put into good use. In fact, this might have already happened, as many opt to log in on a new service with their Facebook accounts.