Jet Blue Brings Food, Video, All Good Things To Airport Travelers

You know the drill: you get to your gate with time to spare, you're hungry, but you're traveling alone. You can either pick up all your stuff and go in search of a dining establishment where there's probably nowhere to sit, with one ear cocked for news of a gate change or flight cancellation; ask someone to watch your stuff, hoping they'll persuade the ever-vigilant TSA not to detonate it in your absence; or just give up, sitting in a pile of luggage and exhaustion, looking forward to $2 peanuts on the plane -- in short, pathetic.

Enter JetBlue, the airline which has built a reputation for making air travel somewhat less heinous, on average, through the application of common sense and technology. The solicitous airline installed interactive video screens at the gates of its new terminal at New York's JFK Airport, which allow travelers who don't want to leave the gate to order food for delivery from airport dining options. Overall there are 200 such screens around Terminal 5, which sees traffic from about 50,000 people per day, with an average visit duration of 90 minutes -- just long enough to work up an appetite, but not quite long enough to go in search of sustenance when all the manifold logistics are factored in.

The JetBlue digital network, called Re:vive, was designed by New York's Deepend for OTG Management, which runs the airport's food and beverage concessions, and wanted the network to be flexible in its presentation of content, creating more opportunities for advertisers to deliver messages, and thus incremental revenue. When no one is interacting with the digital displays in the Re:vive network, it features 30-second and 60-second video ad spots from a variety of ad categories, targeted by the time of day. In the interactive menu section, there are also spots for banner advertising.

The last decade has seen a proliferation of advertising targeting air travelers in transit, the ultimate captive audience, with a mix of digital and "old-fashioned" media. It began with billboards and posters inside the airport. Advertisers could also reach air travelers via the custom-published airline magazines, distributed free in the facing seat pocket. And place-based video networks, like CNN Airports, offered TV air time.

Then JetBlue began installing video screens in the facing seatback, inspiring a wave of imitators. In 2003, Las Vegas-based SkyMedia International introduced a service that prints removable ads directly on tray tables. A company called Advent Advertising, based in Raytown, Mo., offers a service to print ads -- measuring 8 inches by 20 inches -- on the outside of storage bins. In 2006, a company called SecurityPoint Media, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., began testing ads in carts, tables and bins for personal belongings at security points in LAX. Subsequently, SecurityPoint Media scaled up the program through partnerships with airports around the country. In July American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways announced a partnership with a new ad company, Sojern, to put ads, coupons and promotional announcements on boarding passes.

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