Uber is partnering with Yext, a New York-based startup that specializes in location data for businesses, to help online shoppers book rides to their favorite store or restaurant. The partnership will also allow corporations to serve up marketing material and ads to consumers on Uber’s platform. Depending on your point of view, that will either be super helpful or super annoying.
The announcement is an extension of Uber’s decision to open its application program interface (API) software to third-party developers. Since then, a variety of businesses have taken advantage, including Google Maps, Open Table, and Trip Advisor.
The partnership with Yext will allow national chains like Guitar Center or footwear brands like Cole Haan to add a “Call me an Uber” button to their homepage or marketing emails. A customer shopping for a new Fender can click on the Uber button to book a ride to the closest Guitar Center. Yext promises its location data ensures users are dropped off at the right spot, and not a mailing location or parking lot.
But be forewarned, by clicking on that button, you’ll authorize Guitar Center to serve up ads, discount offerings, and other content through the Uber app during your ride. Yext is calling this type of deluge of marketing “trip branding,” which may turn some consumers off — though probably not the type of person that would order an Uber through a retail store’s website.
“If they open the Uber app in the car, [they will] see a banner across the bottom linking to content relevant to the place they're going — food menu, hotel concierge service, etc,” a Yext spokesperson said in an emailed statement to The Verge. “As this evolves, we're imagining options like a bar giving people the ability to buy a round while on their way. So it's added functionality within the Uber app for customers who are interested in it for their destination.”
Chris Saad, head of product for Uber’s developer platform, said in a statement the partnership will help businesses “take all the friction out of bringing customers to their doorstep." In other words, Uber wants to be your de facto transportation option when you want to go shopping.
This latest feature builds on Uber’s so-called “Trip Experiences” the company announced at the beginning of the year. Trip Experiences allows third-party apps, with the user's permission, to serve up a variety of content during that user's Uber trip, based on the specific details of each ride.
Update, September 30th 10:21AM ET: A spokesperson from Uber sent us an email to clarify the company’s position on third-party advertisements: