Home Digital Out-Of-Home Taxi TV To Brands: Don’t Curb Your Enthusiasm For DOOH

Taxi TV To Brands: Don’t Curb Your Enthusiasm For DOOH

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Whether taxi riders like it or not, backseat screens are ad inventory, too.

And once the car door closes, riders are a captive audience for the duration of their trip.

Curb, which operates a network of digital screens within taxi cabs, has technology that helps advertisers get in front of this audience.

There are plenty of startups cropping up with a similar ambition, although these other companies are primarily focused on aggregating supply across screens in public spaces like bars, restaurants, gyms and patient waiting rooms.

There is value in reaching people when they’re on the go, although the targeting isn’t one to one. What makes Curb’s proposition unique is that, in this case, “on the go” is literal, said Lizclaire Tamam, director of marketing and media.

Revving up

Curb sold its taxi top business to Firefly in 2021 so it could focus on “Taxi TV,” which is a video ad network of in-vehicle screens that it first launched in 2008.

Today, the network reaches more than 15,000 taxi screens in 40 designated market areas, including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami. Advertisers include J. Crew, Sephora, Macy’s, P&G and Unilever.

Taxi TV served 30% more impressions last month compared to February 2023 thanks to rising advertiser demand for DOOH inventory, Tamam said.

The next growth phase for Taxi TV, she said, is improving its ad targeting.

Moving target

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Because it’s not possible to know exactly who’s in a cab, the targeting on Taxi TV is pretty basic for now.

Curb knows most riders are young and affluent – half are between the ages of 18 and 35, and 60% have an annual income of at least $100,000, according to research from Dstillery – but “we don’t have very specific audience [data]” available, Tamam said.

Still, Taxi TV does allow advertisers to target by location and time of day. If a passenger’s destination is an airport, for example, an advertiser looking to reach frequent fliers could target an ad to that cab, Tamam said.

Curb also tracks the location of moving vehicles, which gives marketers an opportunity to retarget ads to a passenger’s mobile device based on IP address.

But the company shares only aggregated data with advertisers to protect consumer privacy, Tamam said. It’s unclear how this may change if evolving privacy regulations further restrict the use of IP addresses for targeted advertising.

Driving digitization

For now, though, Curb pitches marketers on geotargeting that helps drive business outcomes because location-based ads can be relevant to consumers despite a lack of one-to-one targeting.

Ads for consumer-packaged goods or fast-food joints could be particularly relevant for passengers on the way to the airport, for example.

Viewability is also a core part of Taxi TV’s sales pitch to buyers. Video ads in cabs have higher viewability than OOH CTV in public places like bars or restaurants, Tamam said, because videos only start playing once passengers enter the vehicle. Plus, even if passengers mute the video player, the content is still visible on the screen until they reach their destination.

To try and encourage people not to immediately hit “mute,” Taxi TV offers interactive elements like QR codes and quizzes and has a program that helps connect brands with influencers. Influencers can help brands grab consumer attention with custom videos that feel targeted because creators explicitly address the fact that passengers are watching Taxi TV. (Can confirm.) “We’ve definitely seen stronger ROI since the launch of our creator program,” Tamam said.

Taxi TV sells its inventory programmatically and has partnerships with Vistar Media, Place Exchange, Verizon Media and MediaMath (now owned by Infillion).

But Taxi TV currently sells most of its inventory through direct deals, because that’s what agencies increasingly prefer, Tamam said. Direct deals are better suited for incorporating custom features into campaigns, she said.

Measurement meter

Regardless of the deal type, however, buyers expect digital-style measurement – and Taxi TV’s measurement is more granular than its targeting.

It can report on impression counts, for example, because rideshare drivers are legally required to note how many passengers are in the car during a ride, Tamam said.

Impression-based reporting also helps Curb manage frequency. The average taxi ride lasts between 13 and 18 minutes, Tamam said, so the same brand shouldn’t appear more than once on Taxi TV within an 18-minute loop.

Taxi TV also shares reports on conversion rates, downloads and sales when passengers engage with an ad, such as by scanning a QR code.

And because Curb has hardware and software for payment processing, it’s able to offer marketers aggregate info on customer payment methods.

Although it can’t share specific purchase information with advertisers for privacy reasons, Curb can report on what percentage of passengers use, say, American Express versus Discover. Based on that information, Curb deduces patterns about what kinds of purchases customers tend to make based on where they go, and it shares those insights with advertisers. It gets this kind of information in aggregate from third-party partners.

And there’s another source of information that Curb can share with brands: data from its eponymous mobile rideshare app. Curb plans to use its app – which is like Uber or Lyft, but designed for yellow cabs – to help Taxi TV continue to expand its targeting options, Tamam said, including data related to commuting patterns.

More news to come on that front in the next couple of months, she said.

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