Subscription services continue to be one of the most resilient business models today. Monthly fees for streaming services, software licenses, box-of-the-month clubs, and many more generate millions every month. Including ridesharing titan Uber, who made its foray into the subscription market with the launch of Uber One in the fall of 2021. Combining the convenience of ridesharing and the Uber Eats food delivery service launched way back in 2014, Uber, indeed, had arrived.
Bolstered in the early days of the pandemic, food delivery services have quickly become an American institution. Consumers love the convenience of having groceries and meals from their favorite restaurants delivered to their front doors, and options like contactless delivery have been celebrated by introverts everywhere.
Hoping to grab more of this market, the Uber One service started advertising on national TV (separate from Uber Eats’ long-running ad campaigns) with celebrity-backed creatives in August 2022 and ramped up their ad spending in February and March 2023. Yet, the famous ridesharing brand seems to be stuck in traffic behind market leader DoorDash.
In today’s category and brand spotlight, we go door-to-door with the delivery service industry to explore why food delivery companies like GrubHub and DoorDash achieve stronger audience engagement than the rest of their peers when they televise food delivery ads. We also discuss whether or not category competitors like Uber One’s celebrity-forward campaigns can ultimately usher them to the top.
Considering that Uber has almost become an eponym like Kleenex, Xerox, and Band-Aid, Uber Eats is in a prime position to take the lead in the food delivery services industry. And fortunately for Uber, audiences have responded favorably to early Uber One creatives featuring Sarah Silverman and “That Guy” with Zach Cherry when they dropped in the fall of 2022.
Moreover, these 15-second spots earned strong engagement compared to other Uber One ads. According to EDO data:
Even better for Uber, the Uber One national TV commercials have been 71% more effective in the past year at driving viewer engagement than Uber Eats ads, indicating that the new subscription offering and star-studded ads have been a successful pivot for the brand.
However, Uber hasn’t quite been able to maintain that early momentum. Engagement with ads from their food delivery services competition—GrubHub and DoorDash, for example—remained consistent from the fourth quarter of 2022 to the first quarter of 2023. In contrast, Uber One ad engagement dropped 37% quarter-over-quarter. Why? It seems to depend on who stars in the ad.
Whereas Uber is tapping into star power with Uber One to engage audiences, GrubHub has deployed a different approach altogether.
GrubHub ads can make your screen feel like a mirror. Past creatives have connected on a wide range of relatable topics, from being a new parent to trying to squeeze lunch in between meetings. In other words, when it comes to food delivery advertising, GrubHub’s marketing and advertising strategies exploit relatability. And it’s working out really for them:
In contrast, Uber One has yet to run a creative without a celebrity since its national TV debut in August 2022. According to EDO data, the creatives that drove the highest engagement for Uber One in Q1 ’23 were the 30-second and 60-second versions of One Hit for Uber One, featuring Diddy. This amusing campaign debuted on Super Bowl Sunday and features Diddy, Montell Jordan, Kelis, Donna Lewis, Ylvis, and Haddaway coming together to make a jingle for Uber One.
Nevertheless, the 15-second version of One Hit was the one that received the vast majority of Uber One airings. This shorter version was less effective at engaging viewers, putting the brakes on Uber One’s most successful celebrity-backed ads.
For many national TV spots, timing truly is everything when it comes to engaging an audience when their next meal is top of mind. For Uber One, Primetime was the most effective daypart in the first quarter of 2023:
EDO’s analysis suggests that Uber might want to focus more on the Early Fringe daypart:
On the other hand, Uber One has had more luck with live sports than other food and grocery delivery services campaigns.
Part of that uptick in live sports engagement for Uber One would have to be attributed to the brand making a big splash during Super Bowl LVII. Still, Uber One television commercials have been highly effective at driving viewer engagement during NBA Basketball on TNT, ABC, and ESPN and the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on CBS, TNT, truTV, and TBS.
As we head into the summer months and brands like Uber strive to expand their delivery services market share to more customers, it’s essential that they build on the small wins they’ve had with engagement. And while, so far, GrubHub currently outperforms them in this area, Uber can use both their and their competitors’ ad campaigns to advance the delivery of Uber One and Uber Eats to future loyal customers.
In the meantime, as you order food this week and think about how the economy continues to make quick work of your ad budget, remember this: investing wisely in marketing resources has never been a greater priority than it is right now. And rather than focusing strictly on viewership numbers and surveys, it’s time for a more sophisticated data analysis that offers deep insight into viewer engagement.
It’s time to demand better because your best bet against a fluctuating market has arrived. Contact us today for a complete measurement of your brand’s efforts and engagement data and for something to dive into while you eat. Bon appétit.