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With Car-Top Billboard Acquisition, Lyft Is A Yellow Paintjob Away From Being A Full Taxi Company

Illustration for article titled With Car-Top Billboard Acquisition, Lyft Is A Yellow Paintjob Away From Being A Full Taxi Company
Image: Halo Cars

It’s hard to make a profit in the ride-sharing business, which may be why Lyft has recently acquired a company that allows drivers to make money by putting digital billboards on the roof of their cars.


The company’s name is Halo Cars, not to be confused with halo cars which are fancy expensive cars that auto companies sell to make their whole brand look better. Halo Cars the company uses rooftop LED billboards to deliver “hyper-targeted” ads to anyone who happens to be near a road and looking at eye-level. The company is basically Google Adsense for car roofs, taking a cut of advertisements that will soon cover our roads like pop-up ads that come out of your computer screen and follow you all the way to the airport.

I’m definitely not against advertisements (looks nervously around ad-supported webpage) but it seems intrusive if I’m not interacting with a company that is supported by the advertisements. Lyft banner on a Lyft car, or pizza sign on a delivery truck? Fine, but a brightly lit sign illuminating the side of the road with an ad for teeth whitening? I’m not looking forward to getting into a wreck with a car that has a sign asking me if I’ve been injured in an auto accident.


I’ve always found it odd that ads can fill public spaces with things like sky banners, bus ads, or billboards. Life shouldn’t be ad-supported, especially when the ads aren’t supporting any part of it. It’s worrying that a company with a large traffic presence like Lyft is jumping on the roof-top advertising business. The digital car billboards are tacky and distracting, especially at night.

You were supposed to be better than taxis, Lyft.

Matt Brown is an automotive engineer, writer, and builder of unconventional things. Mostly vehicles.

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These stupid car roof ads have been popping up in the Bay Area for the last couple of years, and they’re annoying as hell. They’re extremely distracting at night, especially if the car is in the lanes next to you on the freeway and the ad changes. I can draw your attention away from the road because you’re perceiving something happening next you, and it’s just a fucking ad.