Uber’s 2023 Digital Upfront: What we learnt

Posted on Thursday 05 October 2023 | IAB UK

The rise of commerce media was on the agenda as Uber hosted its first Digital Upfront at the Hoxton Holborn

We’ve all heard a lot about retail media, but it was the growth and opportunities offered by commerce media more broadly that the Uber team delved into at their debut Digital Upfront. As Accenture’s Amir Malik explained: “The future of retail media is part of commerce media… expect further convergence of content and commerce.” With Uber’s advertising division on track to become a $1 billion ad business by next year according to Paul Wright, Head of Uber Advertising UK&I, here is what we learnt:

1. Uber offers more than ride hailing & restaurant delivery 

Waitrose is one of the retailers to have recently joined Uber’s delivery roster, tapping into the affluent audience the app attracts. Many brands are beginning to start advertising across Uber’s surfaces - whether it be to geo-fence cities with relevant creative for key events, target tourists arriving at UK airports with relevant messaging, or promote new albums to people who have recently traveled to music venues - the depth of first-party data custom audiences is a very appealing proposition for brands.  

Uber Upfronts

2. The Uber app has 137m active users globally 

Not only is Uber’s audience affluent, it’s also vast. It has 137 million users globally, 40 million of which are in Europe. It also has the ability to reach its audience with ads that are “inserted into the ecosystem without disrupting the user experience”, explained Wright. What’s more, “you’re the only advertiser in the ride” - with advances like playable ads designed to keep people entertained on the journey. 

Uber Upfronts

3. Sometimes people do have 30 seconds to kill

“Attention is finite and it’s rare and it’s extremely valuable” said Mike Follett, Managing Director of Lumen, so advertisers have their work cut out for them when it comes to capturing it. However, “sometimes people do have 30 seconds to kill” and Uber is well-placed to reach people at a point where they are looking for distraction. The key to capitalising on that opportunity? “Advertising needs to either be of use or ornament” explained Follett - and the bigger the ad, the more attention it will get.  

Uber Upfronts

4. “Wonderfully simple” works 

Giving insight into how Warner Music used Uber’s Journeys Ads to promote Ed Sheeran’s latest album, the7stars’ Catrina Dear said that Uber offered the magic combination of “audience, engagement and impact”. By tapping into Uber’s relevant data sources and running a bright, visually arresting campaign, the activity drove an average dwell time of 105 seconds across 52,000 trips - as Wright put it, showing what a “wonderfully simple, effective campaign” can achieve. 

Uber Upfronts


Find out more about this year’s Digital Upfronts here.  

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