Online illustrations- Passenger PED A


Illustration credit: Óscar Chávez.

Some might say that current forms of in-flight advertising are flying blind. Static magazine spreads, pre-movie commercials and seatback ads have the benefit of a captive audience, but cannot reach consumers with the accuracy of highly targeted digital advertising. Airlines are sitting on a mostly untapped gold mine of customer data, and with Wi-Fi becoming the standard and passengers carrying personal devices reaching critical mass, smart in-flight advertising is set to take off.

At the forefront of the impending gold rush are companies like PaxLife, a German wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) platform provider with digital advertising at the crux of its business model. Cloud10 – launched early this year – allows passengers to stream online entertainment to their devices, access services and shop during transit.

“More targeted advertising provides more relevant advertising.” – Tim Letheren, PaxLife

Equipped with a customizable advertising platform, the app can tailor ads for each unique user. “It broadens in-flight advertising from the realm of brands you would normally associate with in flight in its current guise,” says Tim Letheren, PaxLife’s VP advertising. “Being able to transact on a device means there are fewer barriers to entry to in-flight shopping.” Of course, until Wi-Fi is more widespread, its availability does pose a barrier to some of these services.

Besides opening in-flight advertising to more businesses, ad-supported IFE platforms for smart devices will expand the types of advertisements brands can serve audiences, with more potential for higher-quality, information-rich ads. “Cloud10 will be a really interesting proposition for brands that create really good long-form branded content but struggle to seed it,” says Letheren.

Targeted advertising gets mixed reviews from consumers, but Letheren points out the upside. “More targeted advertising provides more relevant advertising, which is therefore higher yielding, and thus can be less frequent,” he says. “This means the consumer gets better and less advertising, the advertiser reaches the consumer in a great setting and the airline realizes ancillary revenue without annoying passengers.”

Piksel, Immfly, Kommworld and others join PaxLife in enterprising around the imminent bring-your-own-device and Wi-Fi-enabled advertising windfall. With data-rich opportunities at their fingertips, it’s easy to see why advertisers are eager to mine this emerging digital market.

At this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo, PXCom, an in-flight entertainment provider focused on destination content, announced a partnership with IMM International that will allow the company to add digital advertising to its media solutions.

This story was originally published in the March/April issue of APEX Experience magazine.

Fergus Baird is a freelance writer and editor currently living in Montreal. Follow his oddball alter ego on Twitter and Instagram for observations on weird life in the city and beyond.