Lyft buys a startup that runs ads on top of ridesharing cars

The buyout could help cash-strapped drivers make money from rides.

Lyft might have another way to generate revenue from trips. The company has acquired Halo Cars, a startup that lets drivers for app-based car services run taxi-style ads on top of their vehicles. A spokesperson for the ridesharing giant didn't outline the intentions for the deal, but Axios speculated that Halo's small size (it only operates in two cities) meant Lyft was interested acquiring the team for its media division.

Halo has a fairly simple business model: full-time, highly rated drivers who signed up (applications are closed due to high demand) got up to $400 per month for agreeing to carry a connected, video-capable ad installation on their cars while they worked. Effectively, the promos are smart outdoor ads on wheels -- advertisers know where their ads are being shown and how many pedestrians are likely to have seen them. Marketers can even ask to shut off ads when a driver is near certain areas, so an ad for a family movie won't run while the driver is passing by an adult store.

This doesn't guarantee that your future Lyft rides will have ads on top. Such a move wouldn't be surprising, though. While Lyft is trimming its losses, it still bled $651.8 million in its fiscal 2019. Car-top ads could subsidize rides and help the company turn a profit. The real question may be whether or not workers would see the benefit. Drivers for services like Lyft and Uber have long complained about low pay. Halo's ads could help drivers make more money without fare hikes, but it's also possible that Lyft could simply pocket the ad money.