Uber rolls out ads based on passenger locations

Yahoo Finance’s Dan Howley discusses Uber’s launch of ads on its app and data privacy concerns for consumers.

Video transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, Uber now offers rides, food, and now ads. The ridesharing company is unveiling advertising options that will target riders at every stage of their use of the app. This might raise some uncomfortable eyebrows and questions about location and privacy. Let’s bring in Dan Howley, who’s on top of the story. Dan, we kind of got used to having every part of our life tracked, whether it’s an Amazon purchase or anything else. How is it different in terms of approach?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, I think you brought it up right away, Akiko, it’s the idea that it’s going to follow where you are and where you’re going. And so the idea is that if you have a destination in mind, an airport, a specific type of store, Uber would be able to run ads related to those destinations.

Now, obviously, there are issues that consumers and users may be uncomfortable with. Obviously, with the fall of Roe v. Wade, one wonders if issues of reproductive rights or breeding grounds would be challenged. If you go to a Planned Parenthood, for example, if Uber would have that data, then if they would sell that data. Parts of this would show up in the app. You can see this from the start of the ride when you order your actual ride, and then towards the end.

And I think one of the things to consider is that Uber says they won’t sell individual data, but it will be aggregated. But as with any type of data online, once your information is available, it can then be brought together through other data which data brokers use to create a kind of profile about you specifically.

And that’s something other companies have warned about in the past, especially Apple. So it will be interesting to see how Uber rolls this out, and then what kind of reaction they get from real Uber riders. I know I’m already seeing ads, but they’re not based on my location or destination.

AKIKO FUJITA: Just more data collected about our lives. Dan Howley, thank you very much for that.

Earnest L. Veasey