Saturday, September 15, 2007

Adfreak not impressed with Taxi TV

I came across this hilarious AdFreak post via Brand Experience Labs, who notes that, "if we keep talking about the consumer being in control, why did we insist on creating things like this that the consumer can't control?" AdRant's Brian Morrissey recounts:
During a 15-minute trip, I saw one commercial for a Panasonic laptop a half dozen times and another for some cut-rate brokerage called several more. The menu has “channels” that don’t actually work: Switching from NBC news highlights to “sports” yields yet another Panasonic ad, followed by more of the same news clips. Ads can’t be muted. After my experience, I think I’ll go back to looking out the window. Drivers hate the system because of the GPS tracking, but they also have to put up with the nonstop racket. My driver told me he despises Panasonic after being subjected to the ads hundreds of times a day. He predicts “only tourists” will use Taxi TV after regular riders try it once. “It’s a scam,” he said. “The ad companies and the city are the only ones getting the cheese.”
Several commenters have since noted that there is in fact a mute button that passengers can use, but still, if the quantity of ads-to-content is really accurate, Taxi TV isn't living up to its original billing as a source of information and entertainment. As I originally speculated, though, it was probably just another service that Verifone could offer once fitting all of the cabs with credit card readers (the real essential service in my opinion), and maybe even offset the costs of doing so.

An even bigger problem than pissing off customers, if you can imagine, is making the taxi drivers crazy. These people drive New Yorkers and tourists around all day long, every day, through smog, traffic jams and a million other annoyances. Is it really a good idea to make them any less stable than they already are? Why didn't Clear Channel or Veriphone opt for directional speakers that might shield the driver from some of the noise? Haven't they ever heard of employee fatigue before? This stuff isn't new, it's digital signage 101.

What do you think, will Taxi-TV last? Will we see it change (either in form or function) in the near future? Or will Clear Channel just not care because they're raking in piles of money? My guess so far is that it won't be the latter, since Morrissey seems to indicate that aside from Panasonic, there are only a few other third-rate advertisers, suggesting that sales of screen time haven't gone too well so far.

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