Evolving from Targeted to Relevant Media

How Virgin Atlantic, Or Any Airline, Could Better Serve Its Captive Audience

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David Maher Roberts
David Maher Roberts
I just flew from London to SFO with Virgin Atlantic. There was an in-flight magazine in the seatback pocket. Clearly this is supposed to be a 'highly targeted' medium because the editors and advertisers know one thing for sure, I am flying. And with that one piece of information they attempt to deliver a lethal cocktail of targeted articles I should find interesting (how to avoid jetlag) and products that I may be interested in buying (sun glasses - as it will be sunny!).

The thing is, I don't.

In-flight magazines may try to target a captive audience of 'people who happen to have taken a flight during the month of October', but that doesn't mean that the content or advertising they offer is that relevant to each one of us, right here and right now.

What relevant content, products or services could they offer if they knew a little bit more about me? Like the fact that I have travelled back and forth to the UK 12 times so far this year and the last time I flew, I didn't catch the end of The Hot Tub Time Machine? I have watched all of the TV comedy available on their service and I only drink vodka-based drinks.

Virgin could capture that data and use it to their and my advantage, but their systems are not integrated or connected. Capturing what I drink or watch on the flight and turning that knowledge into more relevant content or shopping is some way off.

But in the world of connected content (web, smart phones, connected TVs), capturing where I am, what day and time it is and what I have watched/listened to in the past is all easy to do. The granular detail of how I interact with video or music at 8am versus 10pm, at the office or in the gym is very important and intelligent technologies can make sense of it all to help me search, navigate and discover content at the right time, in the right place and in the best way.

Thanks to this personal and contextual information, media services have the opportunity to evolve from just offering 'targeted' media to suggesting 'HYPERrelevant' content and ads. And the more relevant things are, the more engaged I will be and the more these things will have value.

I know it sounds mad, but I would now happily pay to watch the last 15 minutes of The Hot Tub Time Machine.

David Maher Roberts is a digital media executive with over 15 years experience in targeted and specialist media (magazines, websites, branded content). He was appointed CEO of The Filter in September 2007.
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