T-Mobile acquires rideshare ad network Octopus

T-Mobile announced the acquisition of Octopus Interactive, which operates video screens inside Uber and Lyft vehicles. Terms were not disclosed.

With Octopus Interactive, T-Mobile is upping its mobile advertising game, much like it promised. The move is part of the Marketing Solutions group, T-Mobile’s growing ad technology business.

Octopus Interactive helps brands reach audiences through video ads presented on screens inside rideshare vehicles, giving marketers yet another way to reach consumers.

According to a press release, Octopus is the largest national network of interactive video screens inside Uber and Lyft vehicles. Its rideshare network enables brands to do geotargeted campaigns across a range of “highly engaged” consumers. (Because what else are you going to do in the back of an Uber, look at your phone?)

According to Adweek, Octopus partners with drivers to offer back-seat tablets with live games, including some that give away cash prizes, ride information and weather. Ads are interspersed throughout the content.

This way T-Mobile gets access to more screens as well as Octopus’s clients, which include Audible, Fox Entertainment and Philo. Going forward, Octopus’s devices will be powered via T-Mobile’s network.

“With this move, we’re expanding our toolkit for marketers, meeting the needs of advertisers and empowering brands to better connect with consumers, beyond linear and traditional digital channels,” said Mike Peralta, VP and GM of T-Mobile’s Marketing Solutions division, in the release. “As the Un-carrier, we’re committed to disrupting the ad tech space. We’re making good on that commitment through innovative solutions, like Octopus.”

In 2019, Octopus Interactive raised a $10.3 million funding round led by controversial TV giant Sinclair Digital Group, according to Techcrunch. At the time, backset TVs were becoming a common part of the taxi experience, albeit a short-lived one for some folks as Covid set in. The Octopus service was framed as a way for drivers to earn extra money while keeping passengers entertained.

Mixing it up

T-Mobile is no stranger to ride-sharing endeavors, powering the 5G network behind Halo, an autonomous driving startup getting its wings in Las Vegas. It’s “semi” autonomous in the sense that the Halo service autonomously drives a car to a customer’s premise, then the human driver takes over from there.

RELATED: T-Mobile 5G powers Halo’s driverless car service in Las Vegas

Things already are pretty moving fast for the service. Last Friday, Halo powered the official pace car for the Autonomous Challenge at CES, billed as the first high-speed, head-to-head autonomous racecar competition, with nine Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) teams from eight countries competing.