Pictured left to right: Kimberly Creaven, VP Global Advertising, Sponsorships and Advertising at Global Eagle and chair of ARC; and Mary Rae Esposito, media sales director, US at Spafax and ARC member.

The in-flight advertising industry is currently worth around $200 million. But it’s still a tiny fraction of the $600 billion global advertising market. APEX’s Airline Advertising and Ancillary Revenue Committee (ARC) has released a WPP-approved glossary of advertising terms as a first step to increasing digital ad spending on in-flight entertainment and connectivity platforms.

Kimberly Creaven, Global Eagle’s vice-president for Global Advertising, Sponsorships and Partnerships, and chair of the ARC committee says increased collaboration among content service providers, advertising agencies and airlines could help to double the size of the in-flight digital advertising market. The first step has been the creation of the first-ever standardized glossary of terms for in-flight advertising.

The initial idea to set up a committee dedicated to in-flight advertising and ancillary revenue started over a lunch between Creaven and APEX CEO Joe leader about two years ago. “I was telling him that after seeing a few APEX meetings, no one was really addressing the advertising and the up-selling of ancillary revenue.” Despite growing interest from airlines who want to increase ancillary revenue from in-flight advertising, she said inconsistencies such as the lack of a common terminology among stakeholders have been a barrier to making more money from digital platforms.

The committee includes employees of APEX member companies including Global Eagle, Spafax, Panasonic Avionics, Safran, Thales Inflyt, Gogo, Wessco, IMM International and Signal Lamp Entertainment.

Part of the problem has been confusion over how certain key terms are defined among stakeholders. “We had a conversation around what the definition of streaming is, what the definition of the Internet versus onboard Wi-Fi is.”

The first step to resolving the lack of clarity was to create consistent set industry terminology now known as the Advertising Glossary for Airlines. The 27-page document has been approved by both global airlines and multinational advertising company WPP. “It was the result of trying to get everyone to be on the same page in terms of terminology and what it means in the advertising world for some of the terms that we use so that we all understand the same thing. We wanted to create a consistent industry terminology,” explained Creaven.

“It was the result of trying to get everyone to be on the same page in terms of terminology.” – Kimberley Creaven, Global Eagle

According to Creaven, if more improvements such as consistent advertising sizes and more robust and richer media are adopted, the market could double in size from $200 million to $400 million within the next five years. “It seems like there’s a lot of interest from the airlines in wanting to find these new sources of ancillary revenue. We think that advertising, sponsorships and monetization with the advertising would be an easy and fast way to do it,” she said.

Creaven said the ARC committee will now focus on what she describes as a “strategy deck.” This will involve sharing the current market conditions in terms of overall global advertising spending on digital platforms and what parts of it contribute to the $200-million spend on in-flight advertising. “We’re also going to create a true definition of what ancillary revenue is and make sure that advertising is a part of that definition because it’s not consistent across the board. Then we are going to build up a picture of what the travel journey is and how to monetize that,” Creaven explained. “We’ll be able to share some or all of that by September at APEX EXPO.”