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If you ask someone for ideas to get rich quick, it’s unlikely that ridesharing will come to mind. Low pay remains one of the leading complaints from rideshare drivers and has led many to seek new solutions to make a comfortable living on the road. One of these solutions is Vugo, a new platform designed specifically to help drivers boost their income.
Uber and Lyft have come under fire over the years for offering minimal average hourly pay for drivers. The standard Uber driver makes a median income of just $14.22 per hour after tips and Lyft drivers make just a couple dollars more. In a handful of states, average pay drops to the single digits — making extra cash a must when gas and car maintenance expenses kick in.
Keep reading to learn how Vugo can help you make money during your trips and about three ad platform alternatives you can choose from.
- What Is Vugo?
- How Does Vugo Work for Drivers?
- How Much Money Can I Make With Vugo?
- 3 Rideshare Ad Platform Alternatives
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Vugo?
Founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2015, Vugo is a tablet-based rideshare advertising platform that drivers can install inside their vehicles to display ads to their riders. In return, drivers earn 60% of Vugo’s ad revenue, while at the same time earning from rideshare fares.
The idea was originally conceived by James Bellefeuille, a part-time Uber driver who experienced the need for extra income first-hand and soon joined with co-founders Rob Flessner and Eugene Kurdzesau to bring Vugo to life. It’s already been adopted by many drivers in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as advertisers like McDonald’s and BMW.
The platform is smart. Rather than just acting as a digital billboard for riders, it takes into account location and and how users are interacting with the tablet to selectively display ads. The result is a personalized passenger experience that riders can actually enjoy.
How Does Vugo Work for Drivers?
The Vugo platform, the tablet it’s displayed on, and the mobile data it needs to run all come free for selected drivers. In order to sign up to get the car advertising platform installed, you simply need to:
- Tap “Driver Application” on govugo.com.
- Fill in the form with your first name, last name, phone number, email, city, and zip code.
- Consent to receiving emails and tap “Apply Now.”
The company doesn’t specify any driver requirements outside of being in the right location, so if there’s availability in your market or a launch in a new market, Vugo will contact you to set up a professional screen install and training. All you’ll need to do after the install is connect your PayPal account to get paid your cut of ad revenue.
There are two caveats that should be mentioned. First, some drivers may only be selected for a given campaign or for limited activation, so it’s possible that revenue won’t be consistent and your tablet may have to soon be returned. Second, drivers are only paid at the end of a campaign, activation period, or otherwise selected length of time, so earnings may not come for weeks.
How Much Money Can I Make With Vugo?
Vugo claims that full-time rideshare drivers can earn as much as $50 to $200 per month. Breaking it down, this is reportedly $25 per 1,000 impressions on any given campaign.
While it is a great way to earn passive income — drivers truly don’t have to do anything to make money — earnings again can be highly inconsistent if no campaigns are available in your market.
It should also be noted that a large amount of riders have called the platform “extremely annoying.” Instead of getting to relax in rideshare vehicles that are known for comfort, they’re being blatantly marketed to. The platform also supports tips for drivers, but with Uber tipping is available in-app and customers unlikely to submit their payment information on a public tablet instead, you may not find Vugo worth the trouble.
3 Rideshare Ad Platform Alternatives
Vugo remains an effortless way to earn, but there are other passenger entertainment options that you can choose from to provide more value to your riders — and perhaps inspire more tips. Learn about three of the companies that are helping you make money with snacks and ads below.
1. Play Octopus
Play Octopus is a platform that allows passengers to play games and even win cash prizes straight from a tablet that’s installed to the back of your car. As riders play games, they’re shown ads and encouraged to tip you in between, but it takes a little bit of the commercialization away by putting the focus on the entertainment, rather than the ads.
Much like Vugo, Play Octopus offers the tablet installation for free, as long as you give at least 100 rides per month. Once it’s installed, you’ll earn points for every trip and every game played and can earn as much as $100 per month.
2. Cargo Box
Cargo Box isn’t exactly entertainment in the traditional sense, but it does keep riders busy and satisfied by allowing users to buy snacks, drinks, and even beauty products during their ride. Passengers can actually “purchase” for free through the Cargo app, thanks to companies looking to promote products through samples.
For every purchase (including the free ones), you get $1 and 25% of sales. You can even earn from sales bonuses and tips.
Cargo Box is one of the more practical extra earnings accessories for rideshare drivers. Not only do riders appreciate snacks for their commute, but the company is actually directly partnered with Uber, which means free Cargo Box installations are actually encouraged. Drivers will make an average of $130 per month with this product.
Surf functions much like Play Octopus, but instead of games, riders can watch premium videos, listen to music, and discover local businesses for free. It’s a more expansive passenger entertainment system that’s free for drivers to get installed and for riders to use. Surf also reduces the amount of ads that feel invasive, as the content is actually what’s being promoted, much like how promoted YouTube videos or Yelp listings can still be beneficial to users.
According to Surf, drivers can make as much as $200 per month with this system, which can also help your riders relax and enjoy the ride.
Frequently Asked Questions
Rideshare advertising and entertainment companies are presenting brilliant new ways for Uber and Lyft drivers to earn with minimal effort. If you’re interested in learning more about Vugo, take a look at our answers to three common questions:
1. Is Vugo available in all cities?
Vugo is only available in select United States markets, which are not openly listed on the website, though it’s known that the company targeted major cities first. Most drivers must fill in the application form and wait to see if they’re selected.
However, the rideshare advertising platform has long been banned in Chicago, Illinois, where exterior and interior advertisements are not allowed on rideshare vehicles. Vugo was once able to overturn a ban in New York City, but a recent ruling has made its advertising platform once again illegal in NYC rideshare cars.
2. Can I make extra money by advertising with car wraps?
No. It is against Uber and Lyft guidelines for rideshare vehicles — and illegal in some cities — to have any commercial branding on your car exterior. Doing so would put you at risk for deactivation.
3. Can I have Vugo and rideshare ad platform alternatives installed in my car?
While it’s not possible to have multiple tablet-based platforms installed in your vehicle, since they’re all built to be mounted in the same place, you can potentially earn with both Vugo and Cargo Box at the same time. It doesn’t hurt to sign up for both, as there may be a chance that they’re both available in your market and that you’ll be approved.
Tap Into More Earnings
While Vugo may be a bit controversial among riders and city regulators, it still presents a great opportunity for rideshare drivers to get extra money to supplement their monthly income. By installing this platform, you can bring personalized ads that help you earn into your car, so every ride is worth a bit more.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.