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BizReport : Advertising archives : July 16, 2008

Airlines turn to ads to pay fuel bills

Everywhere you look on an aircraft - including the covered passageway to the entrance, the toilet and even the overhead lockers - there's an advert. Just when you thought the airlines couldn't squeeze another one in, they do. But where?

by Helen Leggatt

sojern%20logo.gifThere have been reports over the last few days that indicate not everyone is happy with the thought of more ads during air travel. If it brings in more revenue for airlines to combat their rising fuel bills rather than them passing it on to the passenger that’s fine by me.

Advertising will soon appear on airline boarding passes that passengers who have booked online print out at home. They will fill the white spaces often left on these documents which, after all, are at hand for much of the journey.

Ads will be targeted to the destination of the traveler along with “other characteristics”. By that I assume those who have ordered vegetarian meals could get vouchers for relevant restaurants and products and those in first class probably won’t get a Burger King coupon.

Airline customers do retain some control with the option to prevent the ads from being printed on their boarding pass. "It's a very careful balance between generating revenue and giving customers a good experience," said Josh Weiss, managing director of "Travelers are able to control the experience, and that's the best path for both customers and our revenue."

Delta will be the first of six U.S. airlines to begin advertising on boarding passes. The ads will be supplied by Sojern, an Omaha-based startup, in which all six airlines – Delta, Continental, Northwest, American, United and U.S. airways owns a share. Ad revenues will be divvied up among them.

Tags: advertising revenue, airlines, targeted advertising

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