13 jan 19

Building a smart city network with Firefly

Through smart digital advertising, the San Francisco-based startup Firefly allows rideshare drivers to make more money while performing their job. Global Fleet talked with Kaan Gunay, the CEO of Firefly to get an idea of what Firefly could mean to you.

When was Firefly launched?
Kaan Gunay: “Firefly launched out of beta on Thursday, December 6, 2018. Having operated in beta for a year, the company has already completed a total of 110,000 hours driven across San Francisco and Los Angeles with over 50 successful advertising campaigns at launch.” 

With which driving companies did you cooperate to try out digital advertising?
“Although we work primarily with rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, we contract with traditional ride-hailing services like taxis, as well as drivers working for delivery services like DoorDash. Overall, we work with individuals who are budding and/or committed entrepreneurs and looking to boost their income beyond what they can normally earn through their principal platform.” 

So, can drivers sign up independently, or does their company have to sign an agreement?
“Since drivers are typically independent contractors, they are able to sign up to work with Firefly independently, and they can do so easily through our website. We work directly with these drivers to install our displays atop their vehicles, turning them into geo-targeted, programmable out-of-home (OOH) advertising stations that they can immediately drive away with.” 

What is the targeted operating area?
“Firefly is currently on the road and running live campaigns in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, and we’re currently working to expand into New York. Since our technology sits atop vehicles, Firefly is viable in any city where drivers want to partner with us and earn additional income.”
How much could that additional income be?
“The average driver on Firefly’s network generates an additional $300 per month in free cash flow, effectively adding 20% more profit to their drive time.” 

What does Firefly’s business model look like?
“Advertisers buy advertising space directly with Firefly, and we have a CPM model which we believe is competitively priced. At this time, we’re not disclosing CPM details, but our customers are very happy.” (CPM = cost per thousand ("mille"); the cost per 1,000 viewings, ed.)

If a company were to sign up with Firefy, how would they gain revenue? 
“We mainly contract with individual full-time rideshare drivers, paying them a flat rate. On occasion we do contract with taxi fleets, but the rate is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”

Can the advertising be adapted based on the area where the vehicles are driving?
“Our proprietary digital screens are powered by a combination of machine learning algorithms and GPS-enabled geofencing to unite the best of both OOH (out-of-home) and digital advertising. The technology behind our screens allows us to deliver the right message at the right time to the correct audience, giving our customers the most precise targeted marketing they want/need.” 

Are the revenues adapted on more populated / specific targeted areas regarding the specific advertising?
“No, the revenues aren’t adapted by location, but we do allow advertisers on our platform to target specific geofenced areas.”

Which companies are advertising with Firefly and can they choose the preferred geographical area of the vehicles displaying their advertising?
“As of now, we can name Brex and as advertisers, though Firefly is already running more than 50 campaigns for a large number of brands. We work with any company, including non-profit organisations and local small businesses. Contracts vary based on client’s needs and campaigns. Advertisers can choose the preferred geographical area to target for their advertising message.” 

Firefly would collect data as well to provide to local governments in order to create a smart city network. What kind of data do you collect and who do you share it with?
“We have been working with local governments to provide information on city mobility conditions and follow best practices in privacy. Our GPS sensors provide granular insight so transportation agencies can make informed decisions and policy. Soon, we aim to use our sensors to better address pressing urban issues, like pollution levels, pavement condition and street lighting. 
We also work with non-profit organisations. For example, earlier this year we announced a partnership with the Clean Air Coalition and are currently working on using our device sensors to monitor air quality. Ultimately, we want to provide real-time and city-wide data on surrounding pollution levels.” 

What makes Firefly stand out of the crowd?
“We are much more than first of its kind digital “Away from Home” advertising platform; we started Firefly with a community-first mentality that is ingrained in the DNA of our company.  Our primary goal is to build a true private:public partnership with the cities where we deploy our Fireflies while building a comprehensive programme to support our driver-partners. To do this, we work closely with stakeholders from across the communities we serve that drive value, wages and insights. With Firefly, we’re building a smart city network that works to improve the quality of life for all that live and work within it.”

Image: Firefly's founders Kaan Gunay (CEO) and Onur Kardesler (CTO).

Authored by: Fien Van den steen