- American Express is running geotargeted ads on top of 125 New York City taxis that will feature messaging based on the cab's location, Digiday reported. When cabs pass an American Express merchant, rooftop signs will tap into GPS technology to deliver an ad for that company, which American Express can charge the company for.
- In areas without nearby business partners, the cab will display an ad about the neighborhood. For example, an ad might read "Don't Columbus Circle without it" with the American Express logo. American Express plans to measure whether or not the use of its cards increased in the branded taxis rather than tracking customer foot traffic into businesses, per Digiday.
- In related news, American Express is the official launch sponsor of ESPN+, a subscription streaming service arriving on April 12, according to Adweek. The brand is additionally sponsoring an episode of ESPN's "SportsCenter All-Access," which will feature a behind-the-scenes look at the program instead of commercials during the breaks.
American Express' taxi fleet push might help the company better reach customers in real time with relevant ads while also supporting its partner merchants. The campaign underpins how location-based digital technology is breathing fresh life into previously static out-of-home advertising formats like billboards and taxi signage. American Airlines last fall deployed a similar tactic using London's famous black cabs, which used geofencing technology to serve real-time ads to the mobile phones of passers-by.
While these strategies are aimed at improving personalization, they often walk a fine line. Consumers can feel creeped out by Big Brother-esque experiences or the feeling of being stalked by brands, according to research from InMoment. American Express has previously used geotargeting for Snapchat filters at large-scale events, including Coachella and the U.S. Open tennis and golf tournaments, per Digiday.
The NYC taxi effort is rolling out along with a new global brand platform and campaign for American Express focused on how people balance work with their personal lives. The campaign is supported by TV and digital video spots, along with heavy buys on mobile channels and podcasts. Being a launch sponsor for ESPN's new streaming service is another way that the brand can get its name and refreshed image in front of a wider audience, namely dedicated sports fans.