It’s been documented that taking an Uber and shopping often go together. This may help explain Uber’s latest partnership with a New York City startup that will allow businesses to serve up promotions and other content to passengers just when they’re on their way to opening their wallets.
The partnership is with Yext, which specializes in using location data to help businesses reach would-be customers. It’s the latest effort by businesses to take advantage of Uber’s decision at the beginning of this year to open its application program interface (API) to third-party developers.
The basic idea is that businesses, through Yext, can offer the option of booking an Uber when they make a reservation or search for a product on their websites. In turn, the business would be able to serve up promotions or other marketing content on passengers’ smartphones while they’re in transit.
Yext already has hundreds of client businesses, so the Uber integration will be one more service they’ll be offer. Among the participating businesses at this stage are Guitar Center and Cole Haan.
The latest partnership builds on Uber’s “Trip Experiences,” which was unveiled in January and allows business to offer content — things like a playlist or news briefs — while passengers are en route.
Creepy? Annoying? Maybe for some, but Uber insists that users are in “complete control” of whether they want to get third-party offerings from businesses. “They will need to give permission before any app can connect to Uber and access their trip details. And if they find it’s not useful, users will be able to turn off the feature on an app by app basis,” Uber notes.
Still, Uber’s open flirtation with advertisers may risk a backlash from passengers who just want to enjoy their ride in peace. Consider the ill-fated and much-reviled TaxiTV in New York City, which is soon to be phased out in response to rider complaints.
Uber has increasingly partnered with retailers and credit card companies as way to boost customer loyalty for all parties involved.
Earlier this year, Uber announced “Local Offers,” a partnership with Visa that allows passengers to rack up credits for rides by spending money at participating businesses. Customers get one “Uber point” for each dollar spent at the business; with 100 points, they’ll get a free ride worth up to $10.