Though turning that tiny screen off is literally as easy as pressing a button, it seems New Yorkers are complacent enough to leave the Taxicab TVs on.
The New York Times reports today that thanks to this laziness, the number of national brands buying airtime on crosstown commutes has doubled in the past year. Only 15 percent of passengers take the time to hit the off button and save themselves from ads for, say, the Blue Man Group at Astor Place Theater.
Joe Barron — the owner of the Definitions gym chain — was, at first, skeptical that this whole mid-ride advertising thing would actually stick with passengers after they paid the meter fare. Well he sure was wrong!
Mr. Barron assumed that passengers would simply shut off the screens or ignore them, until he ran a test campaign and found his phone ringing with clients.
He has renewed his account six times since then, he said, and he is prepared to spend half a million dollars next year on taxi commercials, at the expense of advertising on the Internet or in magazines.
“Even if they are not watching the entire ad, they see our name up there,” Mr. Barron said. “They see our brand. They know we’re out there.”
There may be one reason, however, to keep the television running: the Times says that increased ad revenue could enable the city to lower the fees it charges cab owners, thereby keeping fares low. We’re never turning that annoying little TV off again!