The Wall Street Journal reported that United Airlines is the latest company that is considering selling customer data to brands serving targeted advertisements. According to anonymous sources, the airline may place ads in its in-flight entertainment systems. Here, passengers get to watch movies and different programs, as well as use its app.
This report comes as companies from different industries are trying to capitalize on customer data as their potential revenue source.
In 2021, Apple changed its policy that made it easier for users to stop social media companies from collecting data outside their own apps. This data-sensitive approach affected companies such as Snap and Meta. Also, this gave other companies that don’t have to rely on these systems the chance to use their customers’ information. In 2022, Marriott partnered with Yahoo and made a similar move to what United is considering. This allowed Marriott to sell targeted advertising via its in-room television.
Airline Industry’s History of Advertising to Its Passengers
The airline industry has been guilty of advertising to its passengers. United, for instance, has provided Hemispheres Magazine to its passengers, a travel publication that is packed with ads. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, on the other hand, heavily advertise using their websites.
Budget airlines are also known for maximizing every ad space, and the reason can be seen in their ticket prices. The more money generated from other sources, the easier it becomes for the airlines to lower ticket prices.
As one of the major US airlines, United has access to a massive amount of user data. In 2023, United has flown 148 million passengers.
Billions on Advertisements
Based on Insider Intelligence, US companies are expected to spend $55 billion on advertisements by 2024. And not just that, it is even expected to reach $86 million by 2026.
Will United Sell Customer Data?
Whether this is going to push through or not, we’ll have to wait for United Airlines’ official announcement. This is an unpopular move since a lot of customers don’t want their data to be bought and sold. This could also be a complicated matter thanks to existing privacy laws wherein people could opt out of having their information sold.