Cherian Thomas, co-founder and former CEO of Octopus and current head of marketing for T-Mobile Advertising Solutions, believes the company now supports the largest network of in-car entertainment screens in the country, all of which are powered by the mobile cell provider’s network. And it aims to grow larger in 2023, with plans to expand into specific European markets mid next year.
Today, the service generates more than 250 million 30-second video impressions monthly. Thomas expects close to 400 million by the end of the year. “It feels like a rocket ship over here,” he said.
Since T-Mobile acquired Octopus, the company has expanded its advertising and analytics group. It reaches more than 10 million riders per month through the rideshare advertising business, doubling growth in less than six months.
“Unique to us is the mobility data we own,” he said, but the company today does not use it for its program with rideshare businesses to target ads. It could in time.
The T-Mobile ad group relies on anonymized, privacy safe broadband data that monitors signals coming from devices.
T-Mobile works directly with ride-share companies Lyft and Uber drivers. Each get a free tablet for their car, mount, cable, accessories and chargers.
The company works with big brands and agencies, like Audible, Fox Entertainment, Jack in the Box, Philo, Team One, and many more. It now drives network has more than 22,000 active drivers and is on pace to reach more than 30,000 by the end of the year.
“Carl’s Jr. was coming out with a new menu and wanted it to have a Jurassic Park theme because of the movie,” he said. “They changed all their burgers to the name of a dinosaur.”
Riders could select the type of dinosaur burger they would like to try. They would touch the screen, which would reveal more information about the burger. It’s part of the branded games offering seen on the screens.
In July alone, T-Mobile Advertising Solutions shipped more than 5,000 devices and screen to Uber and Lyft drivers throughout the country. The ads, surveys and other entertainment are sold on a CMP basis.
Thomas said triggers that target ads include time of day, weather, and location. It’s about using data that T-Mobile owns.
“Uber and Lyft have revolutionized how we get from A to B, but they haven’t innovated on that rider experience,” he said. “In 2009, you tapped on a button to get from A to B, but that hasn’t changed.”
With T-Mobile, Thomas said the company can start bringing in video conferencing, gaming where the phone is the controller. The company also believes it can design services with companies like Netflix that would let riders start watching a video at home, for example, and pick it up in the ride share car where they left off.
“We have about 3.3% churn,” he said. “Month over month, we add about 5,000 or more drivers. If drivers stop the program, they’re just not driving anymore.”