Airport Advertising Amid a Pandemic

Recently, I flew back to the US for a couple weeks of vacation with my family. On the way there, I noticed how commercialized the entire experience has become. Many Sci-Fi movies predicted that the future would include all sorts of digital schemes to sell products to consumers. Even though I hoped that this would not become reality, it is painfully obvious that it is. Aware that travelling involves a lot of waiting around, advertisers are hoping to use your boredom to sell you their product.

At the airport

Walking through the airport, I noticed that on every table in the waiting rooms, there was one tablet per seat. Whenever a traveler sat at one of the tables, they would automatically be greeted by a rather large and colorful tablet begging them to order something. The services offered on this app are intended to remove all barriers to purchase by offering all of the options in one place and delivering the goods directly to the traveler instead of having them stand in line during an already exhausting trip.

As I had never traveled through the Newark airport, I wondered if the tablets were a way trying to disperse the travelers and avoid that they all congregate in the restaurants or if it was simply there before the pandemic as a way to urge flyers to buy something from the airport. In any case, to ensure that all users feel secure using the service, the tablets also feature a QR code to give a touchless option.

On the airplane

When you finally make it to your seat on the plane, the airline is conscious of the fact that as the customer looks right in front of them, they are automatically staring at a screen slightly more than 12 inches from their face. This prime real estate has recently been rented to advertiser, who are also aware that the customer does not have many other choices besides staring at the screen in front of them and consume the content. In this case though, it is unclear how effective this ad might be as the ad that was served to me was concerning a food delivery service that was clearly not available to me at the given moment. The goal might have been to encourage the traveler to take advantage of this delivery service when they landed, though that would require long-term consideration in the context of an exhausted traveler.

Have you seen these tablet or seatback ads before? Have you used the services?

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