The first time I saw an LCD display built into the back seat of a taxi cab, it was last New Years Eve in Mahattan. It mostly ran advertising, with intermittent weather reports and news clips. At the time, I wondered how long it would be before I saw them in BC. The answer, it turns out, is about four months.
This latest intrusion was in the back seat of a Vancouver Taxi cab. The company that offers them is Moving Media Group, a Vancouver-based company that specializes in digital screens in cabs. The screens have apparently been in operation since last November.
In my taxi, the screen replaced the headrest on the passenger side front seat. The unit is actually surprisingly thick (here’s a side view), and with the seat reclined, the screen really imposed itself on my field of view. In New York, the display was built into the back of the cab’s front bench seat. Its commercials had audio, which (thus far, at least) my Vancouver cab didn’t. As in New York, the content seemed like it was mostly advertising combined ‘breaking news’ headlines and weather updates.
Dumb Display Ads
Does anybody not find this development totally egregious? In an age where marketers and media companies are re-evaluating the fundamental efficacy of ‘dumb’ display ads, why introduce yet another distraction engine into the consumer’s view? Does the Moving Media Group imagine that we don’t yet have enough commercials and advertisements in our daily life?
Besides, I’m already paying the driver to take me from Point A to B. I’m not paying for the privilege of watching ads for the balance of my journey.
A couple of years ago I went to the bathroom in a pub. Stepping up to the urinal, I looked up to see a video display showing a beer commercial. Increasingly, we’re ceding space to useless, ineffectual advertising. This trend is particularly offensive where, in places like pubs, hockey arenas and taxis, we’re already paying for a service. Shouldn’t we be able to enjoy the experience of, say, riding in a cab or micturating without the intrusion of a commercial?
I touched the screen (I know, kind of gross, no?) only once. Following instructions, I touched the “Touch for Menu” button at the bottom of the screen. And I apparently broke the thing:
Looks like it’s both Bluetooth and GPS-enabled.
By fixating consumer attention on the screen, all advertisers can take advantage of this captive audience.
The next time I flag a cab that has a video monitor instead of a head rest, I’m going to wave the driver off and wait for the next one. I encourage you to do the same.