Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Interactive urinals and other advertising

Just what is an "Interactive Urinal Communicator," you ask? One of a number of creative ways advertisers are using to engage our eyeballs. (Yes, there is such a thing.) Whether we're peeing, standing in an elevator or pumping gas, we're a captive audience for an apparently valuable part of any given day. And advertisers are increasingly trying to capitalize on that.

Nowhere are we more captive than at 30,000 feet. And advertiser agency Brand in the Hand knows it. They're hoping to earn our goodwill for their clients by hitting us with ads during that brief flash of excitement when the flight attendant hands us a free (for now) bag of peanuts.

But simply slapping ads everywhere isn't the trick. "The challenge for Brand In Hand and any company or marketer entering ambient media is to make sure their brand message is adding value to the consumer," says Andrew Hampp of Advertising Age in the article.

I'm a voracious bathroom reader, so I'm looking forward to the day when USA Today sponsors the airplane lavatory and prints the news on each sheet of toilet paper. Talk about adding value....

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Bait and switch?

I've expressed some of my airline conspiracy theories in the past, including the ol' "bait and switch." How often have you found a low fare, visited another website to compare, and come back to the first site only to find the fare has gone up? I've even had this happen without leaving the site I'm searching. On Orbitz, for example, it's common to search a route, select a fare that I like, only to get a "Sorry, that fare is no longer available" message.

It seems I'm not alone in my conspiracy theorizing. featured an article today about this phenomenon, which the airline industry is explaining away by saying the lower fares are "cached" to enable faster searching. So even though they show up in search results, they might not actually be available. The recommendation: if you see a fare you like, buy it right away, instead of price-comparing elsewhere.

Hmmm... that recommendation seems to lean a bit heavily in favor of the airlines, no? Or maybe I'm just making up another conspiracy theory.