Firefly on Thursday began rolling out an advertising network intended to boost revenue for ride-share drivers from Uber, Lyft and other companies, and to help local city governments to inform consumers about these services. The platform serves digital advertisements on smart screens mounted to ride-share vehicles.
The car-top digital out-of-home (DOOH) business model also attracted several Silicon Valley venture capitalists and angel investors. Firefly also announced a $21.5 million seed fund investment led by NFX; with other investors Pelion Venture Partners; Decent Capital, Tencent founders; and Jeffrey Housenbold, a SOFTBANK Vision Fund.
Firefly works directly with these drivers to install its displays on top of their vehicles, turning them into geotargeted, programmable DOOH advertising networks. The company estimates the average driver on Firefly’s network generates an additional $300 per month, adding about 20% profit to their drive time.
Worldwide DOOH spend should reach $14.6 billion in 2018, according to WARC estimates.
Firefly has been quietly increasing the number of drivers in the beta program who install the platform during the past year. In aggregate, the drivers have logged more than 110,000 hours, delivering about 50 advertising campaigns for a variety of businesses and government agencies.
Some of the beta advertisers include Brex, Hotel Tonight, and Sam’s Club, said Kaan Gunay, co-founder & CEO of Firefly, which guarantees impressions similar to OOH inventory.
The majority are brand advertisers, but the company will integrate with programmatic ad networks to expand from California into additional cities such as New York.
“Currently we have 30 people, but we’ll be doubling the size of our company within the next few months with the funding,” Gunay said.
Because Firefly geofences off locations, integration with search queries from nearby smartphones or tablets is possible, but is not a focus for now, said Gunay.
A minimum of 10% of all inventory goes to promote and advertise local not-for-profit organizations, public sector public service announcements and other non-commercial organizations such as charities, advocacy groups, and community organizations.
In partnership with the Coalition of Clean Air, it executed a hybrid campaign around California Clean Air Day. A program built on the idea that shared experiences unite people to action to improve community health, Clean Air Day is a statewide effort to make conscious and environmentally minded choices.
The four-week campaign found that the geofenced content was popular in neighborhoods like Downtown LA, Santa Monica, and Hollywood.
The campaign ran only on displays in the hybrid ride-share vehicles and highlighted the environmental benefits of shared rides over solo rides, ultimately received 2.9 million impressions and over 1,000 hours of exposure.