ABC media sales takes a Taxi TV ride

December 1, 2011 by Dave Haynes

There are vastly differing opinions as to whether Digital OOH should get a slice of the TV spend pie, and as many opinions on whether the medium can be sold like TV.

Both will get a test starting next month as the ABC TV network’s national and local ad sales people try including screens in taxicabs in the same pitch deck as spots on Desperate Housewives and Dancing With The Stars.

Creative Mobile Technologies,  or CMT, has announced a deal with American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. and ABC National Television Sales to provide premium content and advertising through ABC’s local stations and sales forces in major U.S. media markets, including its flagship station, WABC-TV in New York City, where CMT’s equipment is installed in some 6,600 yellow medallion taxis.  

CMT and CMM together comprise the largest in-taxi mobile media network in the country with nearly 10,000 fully interactive media screens.  The deal will become effective January 1, 2012.

The release suggests there is a 140-person national sales force and a regional sports and entertainment sales unit to put against this, and that the deal can also leverage “ABC’s substantial and growing presence” in Times Square.

WABC-TV has already built a strong content presence in New York City taxicabs and now looks to further strengthen that presence in association with CMT, whose customers’ taxis generate more trips per day than any other in-taxi media company.  The deal with CMT/CMM, the pre-eminent national pioneer and leader in the rapidly growing in-taxi advertising space, will allow ABC to broaden its content and advertising reach within this unique media space in almost 10,000 taxicabs across the country, with thousands of additional taxicabs expected in 2012, capitalizing on the rise in popularity of in-taxi media and advertising solutions.

The deal involves:

·     6,600 CMT taxicabs in New York City
·     Over 3,000 additional CMT taxicabs in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Anaheim, Kansas City, Denver, Columbus, and Charlotte
·     Additional expansion into new markets by CMT/CMM and ABC

This is not the first crack at using sales forces from another medium to sell the taxi ad inventory. ABC appears to be replacing ClearChannel and content partner NBC. The company’s site says:

Clear Channel Taxi Media, the company’s taxi industry advertising division, has developed “NY10” (New York Taxi Entertainment Network) exclusively for our customers. Clear Channel has drawn on its international advertising experience and its unrivaled familiarity with the New York City taxi market and teamed up with NBC Universal  to provide an engaging, innovative and unprecedented in-taxi entertainment and advertising program as well as a host of other in-taxi advertising solutions including “news” sponsorships and the capability to provide cutting edge location-specific advertising. By maximizing advertising opportunities, we are able to best leverage ad revenues for the benefit of our customers. Clear Channel has a long history of instilling confidence among advertisers and now with our technology solution, advertisers will be able to most effectively target New York’s most captive audiences – taxi riders. 

It’s more than a touch confusing, as the NY10 service seems to be hooked to the OTHER taxi TV service in New York, run by Verifone.

The NY Times decodes some of this in a recent story, and notes how the audio component that would make it more possible to sell the medium like TV is getting neutered.

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