One of the higher profile digital out of home networks around just got its plug pulled.
Screens in the back seats of some 14,000 New York City and borough cabs are being unplugged after the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a pilot program on Thursday that will start by replacing a percentage of the screens with a new meter system that negates the need for the payment and confirmation prompts that showed on the screens.
Payments will instead operate off the tablets and smartphones of riders.
The New York Times reports that the “program would for now be limited to 4,000 vehicles out of about 13,500 yellow taxis, but officials say the goal is to eventually retire the Taxi TV altogether. The commission said the repetitive programming and balky mute and power buttons have led to lots of complaints from passengers and drivers alike, and may account for people abandoning yellow cabs for Uber and other services.”
The network has been run and sold by a couple of companies, one of them Veifone, which said in a prepared statement that it was OK about the change.
“We welcome the TLC’s decision to allow technology companies more freedom to define the consumer-engagement experience inside the taxi,” said Jason Gross, VP-strategy and innovation, Verifone, in a prepared statement. “Verifone has been a leader in delivering new technologies, such as digital media, alternate currencies, mobile payment and e-hailing to the taxi industry and riders. We look forward to helping define the next generation of the in-cab experience.”
It’s a bit of a slap for the digital OOH ad industry, particularly as it has happened just a couple of weeks before the DPAA’s annual summit in New York that takes pains to reinforce the prevalence and impact of screens everywhere.
BUT, if you have been in a NYC cab, there’s a good chance you (like me) hated the damned things, save the payment processing bit. People are not captive in cabs. Locals have their phones to keep them occupied. Visitors are looking out the windows, taking in the street life.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.