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A Company That Pays People to Wrap Their Cars in Ads is Becoming the Uber for Advertisers

With increasing uneasiness from brands and marketers about how much of their ad budget is virtually wasted thanks to online ad-blockers, bot-views and nearly hidden placements, one tech startup expects a return to the real and tangible.

And it’s betting the roads are where it will happen.

“When people discover the great new thing isn’t quite what they were promised, they return to what’s proven to work,” says James Heller, CEO of Wrapify, a new advertising platform that connects brands with drivers to create splashy on-vehicle ads. “Wrapify uses technology not just for its own sake, but to teach an old dog a new trick.”

Wrapify, based in San Francisco and launched in July, takes an idea that’s long been in the marketplace — wrapping cars with company logos and marketing messages — and drives it into the 21st century.

Wrapify incorporates macroeconomic and technology trends of crowdsourcing, the sharing economy, real-time data and analytics, and the sovereign individual — who gets another opportunity to monetize his or her primary material asset, their car.

Drivers, who must be 21 or over, own or lease a 2008 or newer vehicle and pass a background check — download Wrapify's proprietary mobile application, which can only be engaged in their personal vehicle. GPS technology tracks their mileage as they go, and brands get real-time visualized dashboards of cars’ impressions, so they know how many people are seeing them.

Heller says Wrapify has the impression numbers to prove the platform works. A recent campaign for national retailer Petco saw Wrapify put five cars on the road in San Francisco for two months. The campaign received 3.2 million impressions, more than any billboard in the region.

“Wrapify is a great concept, and moves to market very quickly,” says Kacie Jackson, a marketing manager at Petco, who said the company had vehicles on the road in less than two weeks. “It’s a great platform to amplify a marketing initiative.”

Wrapify is currently in 11 US cities in five states, partnering with national and regional brands like Harrah’s, Quest Nutrition, the HR solutions company TriNet, and others. The company has signed up more than 6,000 drivers, who can average between $400-500 of income per month, automatically deposited into their bank account bi-weekly.

One of those drivers, Christina Serna of San Jose, California, said she was at first dubious but quickly became a believer.

“My mom signed up and we thought it sounded crazy, but once we saw the money she was making, we did it right away,” Serna says. She’s often asked whether she works for smart home camera Butterfleye, whose art adorns her 2014 Ford Focus. “It’s actually a great conversation starter,” she laughs.

Wrapify recently added a new feature it calls “Swarm,” where numerous drivers who share the same brand car wrap converge on one area at the same time. Drivers’ receive a bonus for the activity.

Wrapify has raised $1 million in seed funding from investors that include Ludlow Ventures, Social+Capital Partnership, Haystack, and The LAUNCH Fund.

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