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

Uber Officially Launches UberRUSH For On-Demand Delivery

What Happened
Popular ride-hailing service Uber has been testing UberRUSH, an on-demand local delivery service, in New York City since April. Following last month’s confirmation that they will expand the courier program, today the company announced the official launch of UberRUSH in New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago. With its large fleet of drivers and bike messengers, Uber is no doubt looking to use its infrastructure advantage to take on existing on-demand delivery services such as Postmates and Deliv.

What Brands Need To Do
UberRUSH offers a great opportunity for local vendors to modernize their customer experience with on-demand delivery service. Although only available for local merchants in select cities at the moment, it seems reasonable to assume that Uber will be extending this service to more cities soon. And with Shopify and Clover as its launch partners to help with the onboarding process, UberRUSH has the potential to help establish Uber as an aggregator for small local stores in the brick-and-mortar retail space, similar to the way Amazon provides a platform for independent online vendors. That is something all retail brands need to be aware of.


Source: TechCrunch


Uber Readies Push into E-Commerce Delivery

What Happened
Uber is slowly unveiling its plan to enter ecommerce with a strategic partnership with dozens of big retailers and fashion brands, as the on-demand car service tries to establish itself as an express delivery option for shoppers on a wide range of shopping websites and apps. Moreover, Uber has also been reportedly in talks with retail tech companies like Bigcommerce and Shopify, which help small businesses set up online storefronts. The news came just 3 weeks after Uber started testing the UberRush courier service to handle package returns.

What Brands Should Do
Clearly, this new program would offer retailers, big and small, a great opportunity to modernize their customer experience with on-demand service. Its potential partnership with Bigcommerce and Shopify could also establish Uber as an aggregator for small local stores in the brick-and-mortar retail space, similar to the way Amazon provides a platform for independent online vendors, and that is something all retail and fashion brands need to be aware.


Source: Re/code

How Warner Bros. Is Promoting Mad Max With Free Uber Rides

What Happened
Warner Bros has teamed up with Uber to promote the upcoming launch of its Mad Max video game – and the franchise in general – with free, post-apocalypse-themed rides in Seattle. For a limited time this week, Uber users can opt to hail a Mad Max-themed ride with elaborately costumed drivers for a trip anywhere in downtown area of Seattle.

What Brands Should Do
Although Uber is no stranger to stunt marketing, this new effort marks the first time a media company has tapped the ride-hailing app to provide interested consumers with a branded experience, whereas previously brands mostly teams up with Uber for delivery and logistical solutions.  As Uber expands its reach into new territories such as food delivery and ecommerce, so should brands when it comes to creatively using Uber’s road presence as a marketing asset.


Source: The Verge

Header image courtesy of Uber Seattle’s Twitter


Uber Partners With Local ISP To Provide In-Car Wi-Fi In India

What Happened
In its newest localization efforts, Uber has partnered with Bharti Airtel, an Indian telecom company, to provide free in-car WiFi for riders in India. This partnership also offers discounted phone plans for drivers and allows them to accept payments through Airtel Money, Bharti’s own digital payment system. Usually struggling with patchy mobile internet coverage and costly mobile plans, users in India (and other developing countries) will no doubt welcome this new offer.

What Brands Can Do
Although unlikely to be introduced in the US any time soon, Uber’s new partnership in India does point to a future where on-demand rides come with their own Wi-Fi offers, which would naturally open up new in-car advertising and targeting opportunities for brands to go along for the ride.


Source: New York Times

Uber Attempts To Infiltrate Ecommerce Via Return Services

What Happened
Leading ride-hailing app Uber is aiming to infiltrate ecommerce space with a new “Return Service”, which helps busy and lazy online shoppers to easily mail back the purchases they wish to return without actually going to the post office or UPS outpost. As an extension of its existing UberRush service in Manhattan, Uber is offering the first return for free, and charges each subsequent pickup a $4 flat fee.

What Brands Can Do
Uber has always been ambitious in expanding its platform’s reach into new territories, including healthcare, food delivery, and even urban planning. Recent reports also suggest that it is working to develop a merchant delivery program for same-day delivery of goods powered by UberRush couriers and Uber drivers. For retail brands, especially the smaller ones that operate locally and does not have the resources to develop their own logistical services, Uber’s recent entry into the ecommerce space could turn out to be a great opportunity to seize and leverage into offering a better customer experience.


Sources: Uber Newsroom

Microsoft Updates Outlook With Uber, PayPal, and Evernote Integration

What Happened
Microsoft is rolling out a redesigned with deep integration with a host of add-ins from partner platforms, such as Uber, PayPal, and Boomerang. Some newly announced partners including Evernote, Yelp, IFTTT and Wunderlist will be integrated into the web version of Microsoft’s email client in coming weeks. Through such integrations, Microsoft gets to build out its platform with new functionality, while the partner services get a boost in reaching potential users.

What Brands Should Do
For brands looking to increase audience reach through this kind of platform integration, the Outlook API is available for building your own branded add-ins. Moreover, brands should consider forging partnerships enabled by deep-linking platforms. For example, InMoji can help brands extend reach and build engagement with users of messaging apps via custom-branded, clickable emoji and stickers.


Source: The Next Web

How Deep-Link-Enabled Partnerships Are Changing The Mobile Ecosystem

What Happened
StubHub has teamed up with Uber to generate some cross-app synergy. Now event-goers will be able to book an Uber ride directly from StubHub’s mobile apps after purchasing tickets. Moreover, StubHub will also send out a timely notification two hours prior to the event to offer users a chance to conveniently request a ride. A similar partnership between Uber and Live Nation was also forged back in May to integrate the on-demand car service into the event-going experience by using Uber’s open API. Earlier this year, Uber announced a similar deal with Foursquare with the help of mobile deep-linking startup Button.

What Brands Should Do
Either through open API or third-party deep-linking solution, Uber is clearly working to put its service conveniently anywhere people may need it. Such an approach has certainly helped expand Uber’s reach, and it is something that most brands can learn from. The key here, though, is to figure out where your product or services are needed, whom your brand should be partnered with, and how to create a deep-linking solution that is user-friendly and efficient – all of which the Lab are happy to help you with. Come visit us if you need help understanding the ever-evolving mobile ecosystem and finding the suitable partnerships.


Source: Tech Times

Microsoft Trims Non-Core Units As Silicon Valley Consolidates

This week, Microsoft spun off two units unessential to its core business to the companies that could really use them. First, it sold off Bing’s mapping assets to Uber, who will also absorb around 100 Microsoft employers, among which many are specific-focus engineers who worked to get image data into Bing. Besides reiterating the importance of mapping tech, this acquisition signals Uber’s vast ambitions in possibly incorporating Bing’s 3D, aerial and street footage into its own data assets.

Moreover, Microsoft also announced yesterday that AOL will soon take over display ad sales for Microsoft, which includes mobile and video ads, in U.S., U.K., and 7 other global markets. Microsoft will continue to have display ads on various properties ranging from Skype to Xbox, but AOL, which just recently got acquired by Verizon for a whopping $4.4 billion, will be handling those ad sales instead. As part of the 10-year deal, AOL will replace Google with Bing on its digital assets for search and search advertising, starting Jan. 1st, 2016. This marks a significant gain for Bing, which recently passed the 20% market share in the States.

On Trend: On-Demand Delivery Services Compete To Take Over Local Economy

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Amazon is quietly developing an Uber-like courier service using crowd-sourced drivers, which means your next Amazon order could be delivered to your doorstep by one of your neighbors. Regardless of whether this could help the Seattle-based ecommerce giant solve logistic problems while cutting costs, this is undoubtedly the latest development in the ongoing trend where on-demand delivery services from tech companies and startups compete to take over the local economy.

For better or worse, Uber pretty much set the precedent for a rollout of on-demand services that all share the same basic principle—using your smartphone to get things you want, when you want it. Start-ups such as Luxe, Washio, and Postmates are just a few examples of businesses utilizing this basic principle in order to make people’s lives more convenient. Luxe allows users to avoid the hassle of urban parking by ordering a valet to pick their car up and park it for them. Washio offers premium dry cleaning and laundry services delivered to your door. Postmates allows users to order any item that is carried in a store or restaurant and have it delivered.

On Monday, on-demand delivery service DoorDash partnered with Trader Joes and Whole Foods to deliver prepared foods like sandwiches and wraps, putting them in direct competition with existing on-demand services. As more delivery services enter the market, Uber may no longer be the dominant player. The company has hit a snag as it strives to expand beyond just a “transportation service”, getting pushback from companies like Apple and Starbucks who would rather look to a more established delivery service like Postmates to deliver its products.

This evolution is great for consumers, because it empowers them to request services at their fingertips. However, from a brand perspective, this could be a scare, as small brands try to stay afloat in a sea of delivery options. Control is taken out of the brands’ hands and put into the hands of consumers making it imperative for brands to explore different approaches to brand marketing.


Editor’s note: this report is updated on 6/17 to add in the Amazon news.