Uber Capitalizes On Its Own Data

Companies like Uber are expanding their use of first-party data found in services like search to feed into artificial intelligence engines that bring them closer to existing and potential customers.

Customer data can bring on all types of insights. It's "insane" what a rainy Monday can do to services, Alex Otrezov, head of search and experimentation at Uber, told attendees at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit during the keynote on Thursday. 

Uber has been focusing more on data and what type to share with partners as it adapts and moves services from one market to another around the world. Otrezov admits it has been a bit complicated, especially with the mounting services the company now offers and emerging technologies such as voice search, it is piloting.

"As people order things via voice, it's been easier for us to get consumers using it because the risk is low," he said. "No one is going to order a 55-inch TV by accident."

He said improving relevancy in search on Google has been a challenge for the company because the business model sits outside of typical market segment categories and it is difficult for Uber to come into auctions with an alternative product to improve relevancy.

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The model makes it difficult to run ads against keywords, he says because the search engines are not yet intelligent enough to realize that some of these companies should have a higher quality score. So, Uber no longer focuses as much on relevancy and click-through rates and managed to balance out the hit taken on quality by a tactic that allows marketers to drive higher-value consumers.

It's easier to get someone to install an app to take a ride with a ride-hailing service, but it's another challenge to get truck drivers to participate in freight forwarding. One of the more recent services launched, Uber Freight, works with truck drivers to identify the drivers who can pick up and transport partial loads, and helps the drivers maximize the space in their trucks.

Lately it has been all about branding. YouTube has become a major branding platform for Uber. The company's marketers have been looking into whether it should create or outsource the content for the projects.

Uber recently teamed up with 90 Seconds to bring its Short Film Festival to the United States from Australia and New Zealand, where a filmmaker won the $10,000 first prize. The U.S. winner will be announced at the San Francisco premiere.

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