More airlines turning passengers list into ad audiences

October 27, 2008 by Dave Haynes

One of the first posts I ever did here was wondering why airlines didn’t use the video screens on seat backs to do some marketing or advertising. At the time, the airlines that had these screens were either showing nothing, or a series of slides, or just straight TV.

A lot has changed since then.

Many more jets have the screens, and companies like IdeaCast are in there with a better idea.

Reports Advertising Age:

Air travel may be getting thumped by recession-strapped consumers, but that hasn’t stopped advertisers from investing in in-flight TV.

This week, JetBlue Airways becomes the third partner to join Airline TV, an aerial ad network from IdeaCast, an out-of-home company that provides content and advertising to health clubs and Six Flags locations nationwide. Its other airline partners include Continental Airlines and Frontier Airlines.

JetBlue, which has offered in-flight TV to its customers since 2006, had been selling its TV platform with a different partner before aligning with IdeaCast. “They already do this for other airlines, so we just saw this as an opportunity to leverage their expertise but also give us a broader view and access to advertisers,” said Fiona Morrisson, JetBlue’s director of brand management and advertising.

The premise is pretty simple. You have a truly captive audience for the half hour or so between the time passengers get on a plane and actually up in the air, and 10-15 minutes on the ground at the other end, plus all the true flight time. And you have people who have very little to do and aren’t really settled in until the plane is up and the fasten your seatbelts light is off.

So a screen 18 inches from their faces has some possibilities, as long as they offer value and not a two-hour ad reel.

Interestingly, in the US the medium has gone from just screens to related printed materials in the seatback sleeve and even product sampling, like high-end chocolates and Altoids.

IdeaCast’s Airline TV also will be Nielsen-rated by year’s end, which Jason Brown, the company’s president-sales and marketing, said will allow it to offer specific passenger traffic numbers and even-more-granular viewing data. “We’ll know who’s watching at every single foot,” he said. “Imagine you’re delivering a sample, you just saw it onscreen, you read about it on a card on the back of your seat, and the sample’s in your hand for two hours. That type of connective tissue is one that builds a brand ambassador.”

Cost-per-thousand rates for Airline TV are premium within the out-of-home sector and equivalent to prime-time CPMs for cable TV audiences, Mr. Brown said. Some advertisers are buying the network on a monthly basis, while others have already made annual commitments.  

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