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Pathmatics Blog

Uber vs. Lyft: Who Spends More on Digital Advertising?

August 15 2016 by Jordan Kramer



Say goodbye to the days of the bright yellow taxi and say hello to the ride-sharing revolution! For many of us, requesting a car has become as ubiquitous as brushing our teeth, and the choice of whitening or tarter control is just as important as who's wheels you trust to deliver you to your final destination: Uber or Lyft? Both of the ride sharing companies have their perks, and their funds, considering the platform’s product rests in the passenger seats of their fleet. Uber has raised a whopping $7.1B and has a valuation of a few times that, while Lyft has raised just over $2B and has a valuation of about $5.5B
The market isn’t dying down anytime soon, with GM injecting some serious cash into Lyft’s lanes, and with talk of an Uber IPO, the race is just beginning. 
These two brands are undoubtably huge competitors on the street, but what is their digital advertising strategy? We paired them up against each other across desktop, mobile, and video to analyze spend, creatives, sites and buying strategy. Read on for our Q2 findings.


Spending over $1.4M on desktop during Q2, Uber Technologies (est. 2009) crushed Lyft’s spend of $355K, and led in impressions with 239 million compared to Lyft’s 99 million. The pink mustached company (est. 2012) flipped the tables in terms of creatives, releasing 233 unique desktop creatives during the quarter, just edging out Uber’s 221 unique creatives. 
Uber creatives were detected on an average of 94 sites per day, with reddit.com, careerbuilder.com and snagajob.com coming in as the top three sites. Lyft’s desktop creatives were seen on an average of 43 sites per day, led by top sites youtube.com, eBay.com and healthline.com.
Spend for Uber ramped up after June 16 with campaigns for new drivers and Uber Rush, their new delivery service for businesses. 73% of Uber’s desktop dollars were spent on direct deals, followed by 20% through DSPs, and 7% via ad networks. Lyft’s spend remained consistent for the quarter at an average of $3,900 per day. With an opposite strategy, 56% of Lyft’s desktop spend went to ad networks followed by 21% through DSPs and 8% direct.
Source: Pathmatics US Desktop Data, 4/1/16-6/30/16.


While Uber outspent Lyft on mobile+tablet, the gap was not as large as desktop. Uber came in at just over $950K for the second quarter on mobile to Lyft’s $356K. Garnering over 204 million impressions, Uber released 206 unique mobile creatives during Q2. Lyft released 291 unique creatives, 43% more than it’s rival, but saw only 110 million impressions.
Both services targeted answers.com and accuweather.com in their top three mobile sites. On answers.com Uber saw 76% of the impression share between the two advertisers and also won out on accuweather.com with 65% of the impression share. Uber mirrored their desktop buying strategy on mobile, favoring direct buys with 79% share of spend. The remaining 21% was split between ad networks, DSPs and SSPs. Lyft leaned more towards direct on mobile, putting 46% of their dollars to direct buys. They still favored ad networks, led by top partner Google AdX + AdSense, taking 53% of Lyft’s mobile spend.
Source: Pathmatics US Mobile Data, 4/1/16-6/30/16.


The tables have turned as Lyft upped their video game big time in Q2 spending over $246K, an exponential increase from the $24K spent on the channel in Q1. Uber Technologies spent just over $71K on video for the second quarter, garnering 4.9 million impressions to Lyft’s 14 million.
Lyft released six unique creatives on an average of two sites per day, focusing on hulu.com and youtube.com. Uber released five unique creatives in Q2 on an average of one site per day, with youtube.com taking the lion’s share. Lyft’s video creatives showcased their partnership with GM and promoted the testing of their driverless cars, in addition to creatives headlined with the tagline, “Riding is the New Driving.” The majority of Uber’s creatives were geared towards promoting drivers toting, “Uber works on your schedule.” Uber changed up its buying strategy on video, funneling 99% of spend through ad network Google AdX + AdSense.
 Source: Pathmatics US Mobile Data, 4/1/16-6/30/16.
So, who are you riding with on your next outing? For more insights, see how Q2's top digital advertisers were buying here.

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About Author
Jordan Kramer

An out-of-the-box thinker with a love for disruptive ideas, Jordan's background spans PR and events for the wedding & hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Scottsdale and also launching one of America's most unique food trucks. She jumped from the food start-up scene to the tech start-up scene in 2013 to join one of the most unique companies in ad tech. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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