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Facebook Ads Review: Uber

Facebook Ads Review: Uber

Uber Facebook Ads Overview

Uber had lived a charmed existence until its breakneck growth and mostly ruleless company culture caught up with it in 2017. The world’s most valuable startup has since shuffled its leadership, messaging and branding in hopes of “growing up”, as it stabilizes its core business and reputation. The reshaped branding and messaging has been apparent in their TV advertising strategy, where they apologize for past sins. New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is placed front and center in the ad below, as the company tells the world they’ve moved on from founder CEO Travis Kalanick, and the culture he built.

Does their strategy on paid social reflect this? Not really. While they are spending directly to promote some of their better media coverage lately, a bulk of their Facebook advertising effort has gone into what has historically been their bread and butter – product-heavy direct response messaging. It’s not perfect – they inexplicably do not have a new user offer for their ride hailing service and get a little too specific with their credit card offers, but they’re generally pretty good.

Stats at a glance

Live Ads: 150

Countries: 3

Images: 10+

Videos: 10+

Copy Variants: 10+

Facebook Ads

Uber Facebook Ad, Rose
Rosé anyone?

Comment: I don’t drink Rosé, but Facebook knows that a lot of people do, and who those people are. I imagine Facebook is showing this ad to lots of millennial-aged women, because that’s who’s responding to it. I’m skeptical that calling out “wine tasting events” as an item to get 4% back on really moves the needle, as the offer is actually much better than just “wine tasting events”. You get 4% on all restaurants and bars. I imagine lots of people read this and think, I only go to 1 wine tasting event a year, why do I care if I get 4% back on it?

Grade: 3/5

For sports fans…

Comment: Attractive silhouette, beer, striped shirt. Yes, this ad will get men to stop scrolling. While there are lots of women that like to drink beer at sporting events, I imagine Facebook’s algo is showing this ad to far more men than women because it’s performing better with them. It’s a decent counter-play to the Rosé ad.

I wouldn’t specifically call out 4% reward “toward your ride to the next game” because I don’t think people think that way. I’d just say “4% back so you can watch the next game with a little more dough in your pocket,” or talk about how it’s the most valuable cashback offer for bars and restaurants available on the market. It’s still a reasonably effective piece of copy because 4% back on dining is a completely powerful offer to anyone that likes to watch sports in the fall and drink beer out while doing it.

Grade 3.5/5

Comment: 50 million people is pretty solid social proof. I bet this is a winning ad for them. I like the first person perspective of the app open with the simple prompt “where to?”. It’s prompting the prospective new customer to download the app and go somewhere right now. They’re building urgency and addressing the token resistance most apps face, where the user doesn’t want to spend much time getting signed up. Always say “in minutes” if you have a great funnel and a responsive service. I think they’re missing a true value-proposition in this ad though – holding it back from being perfect. Why not get them through the door with a new user discount or free first ride?

Grade: 4/5

Al Sharpton?!

Comment: Uber’s lobbying effort in New York utilized an Al Sharpton clip with no context. He says “where will we start seeing services in our community? That our concern is that we do not want our communities underserved. It aint got nothing to do with nothing else”. I guess you can argue that Uber helps underserved communities, as its GPS and rider/driver rating system makes it a safer alternative to taxi cabs. Fair. Good copy in the ad though – people love Uber because it’s cheap and reliable. This ad calls out NYC Council for threatening that.

Grade: 3.5/5



I didn’t see any ads designed specifically for lapsed users and retargeting, which I think is a bit of a mistake. Other than that, I think Uber’s doing a decent job with their creative, messaging, and strategy on Facebook and Instagram advertising. They’re trying to win back your heart with their TV ad apologies, and they convert you when you’re on your phone – a tap away from a download.  I don’t think they’re hitting any homeruns with their creative – none of these have potential for crazy virality and incredibly low cost per acquisition, but they’re likely consistently effective enough for Uber to spend substantially on them.

Grade: 6.5/10

Facebook Data Stories

Facebook Data Stories

Facebook users give Facebook broad authority to track their internet activity. Most major sites have the Facebook Pixel installed, which helps the site leverage its own visitor data to more intelligently advertise on Facebook. Facebook also uses that data in all sorts of ways. They map behavior by categorizing the sites visited, by purchase and transaction history, by what kind of apps a user installs. Facebook then anonymizes all the data and sells it to advertisers looking to find new customers.

While intrusive, no one cares that Facebook does this because the only way it effects them is through a newsfeed that shows incredibly relevant advertisements.

And people trust Facebook isn’t actually capable of packaging the information in a way that threatens individual privacy or security.

It gets tricky when Facebook allows publishers and app creators to harvest user data. In the case of Cambridge Analytica, CA purchased data from a personality quiz app. Users were voluntarily downloading an app and opting into sharing their Facebook data with a researcher who sold the data to Cambridge Analytica – which is against Facebook’s terms of service. But is it unethical? I don’t know.

What if instead of selling the data, the researcher started company that got acquired by Cambridge Analytica? CA would then own all the customer data, and it’s hard to argue that acquisitions are unethical. And acquisitions solely for user data are commonplace albeit not frequently highlighted.

There’s also a story floating that Facebook was aware of the Obama campaign harvesting user data to build out the entire social graph to better craft advertisements for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. The story goes to say that Facebook allowed Obama to do it because they supported his campaign and allowed them do do things they wouldn’t have allowed anyone else to do.

Can Facebook play favorites in politics? Sure. That’s their prerogative. As long as they don’t pretend they’re an objective source.

If you’re protective over your internet behavior and don’t want targeted ads, log out of Facebook when you browse other web sites. Don’t use the “login through Facebook” feature many websites offer. Delete your Facebook if you want. Vote with your feet – it’s the only way to incite a change in behavior.

This all just makes me look forward to decentralized social networks, as I think it’s foolish to rely on a private company with so much data to fight the broad overreach of a peeping NSA that stamps their own FISA warrants.

Facebook is a good product that adds value to the time I spend online. They just have a PR problem as they’re now the target of outrage coming from the very same political party they’ve enabled over the last decade.

SEO for dummies

SEO for dummies

What are the no-brainer steps to getting your website to rank?

Create Content

Create text-based content early and often. Google likes freshness and will reward your website when new words and pages appear frequently. Make content around the keywords you want to rank for. If the content is good, the next section becomes infinitely easier. People will share your content if it’s valuable, earning you valuable backlinks and traffic. Not rocket science.


Google likes when other websites link to your website, but not all links are treated equally. Many major websites insert “nofollow” tags on links that direct off of their own domain – a strategy to retain SEO juice. “nofollow” links aren’t useless, but they’re not as impactful as links that are follow eligible. Facebook, Twitter, Quora, and Wikipedia are all nofollow. Reddit is generally nofollow, but popular posts are rewarded as follow eligible.

Keyword Optimization

Put the keywords you want to rank for all over the place. Headers, titles, page URL, hosted image URLs and image meta descriptions. Balance an aggressive approach with not sounding like an SEO spam robot.

Set realistic goals

Make sure that your keyword goals are attainable. For you to see search traffic, you need to rank on page 1. Is your target keyword broad and generic, and are the incumbent ranking pages from legitimate heavy hitters? Unlikely to crack page 1 unless you’re also a heavy-hitter with a broad backlink profile.