Driving outdoor into the digital age with connected cabs
A view from Andrew Barnett

Driving outdoor into the digital age with connected cabs

Among the shop fronts and cash points of the UK, it is hard to miss one of the most recognisable icons on the road - the Hackney Carriage. Easily spotted and always present, the exterior of the black taxi is a well-established format in the Out of Home world. Always on the move, the black taxi has long been the perfect vehicle for advertisers to broadcast their message across towns and cities.

Creative taxi advertising is still as eye-catching as ever, delivering campaigns that truly stand out in a crowd. However, in recent years the advertising landscape has significantly changed with digital OOH coming to the fore.

In line with this shift, we’ve commissioned a lot of research into the mind-set of taxi passengers. Recently, we discovered that demand for more interactive forms of advertising in taxis is on the rise.

As mobile device usage continues to boom, we increasingly wish to be connected to the internet at all times, whether we’re out shopping, at an airport or in a restaurant. Being on the move is no longer a valid reason for being offline, so Wi-Fi has become a premium (and expensive) service that is vital for keeping Britain connected.

Brands that opt to sponsor in-taxi Wi-Fi as part of their taxi advertising campaign are able to extend their communication beyond the exterior and onto the passenger’s mobile device, enabling brands to reach audiences via outdoor and digital channels in one fell swoop.

75 per cent of taxi users are more likely to flag down a particular taxi if they knew that it offered free Wi-Fi, putting the sponsoring brand front of mind. Once the passenger is settled in the back of their taxi, the brand can connect more directly with them by creating a mobile friendly ‘hub’ of content, through which the passenger must pass in order to connect to the internet.

Via this portal opportunity advertisers are able to implement customer recruitment, find an extra outlet for TV or web content or simply provide relevant information to their target audience. While the passenger has control over how deeply they interact, with all content being hosted in the taxi, some level of brand engagement is guaranteed.   

The recent introduction of NFC touchpoints in black taxis strengthens brand and consumer conversations further. Making it quick and easy for passengers to access promotions, downloads or further information means that advertisers can prompt immediate consumer response via mobile devices – a massive benefit to traditional outdoor campaigns.

Where the broad reach of OOH attracts a wide range of consumers, technical capabilities inside taxis are now delivering passenger engagement on an individual level. As with all successful industry advances, changing consumer behaviour has been the driving force. Updating the classic taxi to integrate traditional outdoor advertising with digital marketing tactics means that the taxi is working harder than ever before.

Andrew Barnett is managing director at Ubiquitous