United Airlines passengers to see targeted ads on seat-back screens

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Here are your new rights as airline passengers

Here are your new rights as airline passengers 02:09

Marketing in the friendly skies is getting personal, with United Airlines now displaying targeted ads on seat-back screens as the carrier looks to cash in on customer data. 

United passengers who toggle through the in-flight film and TV show options already see ads during programming. That includes a 30-second commercial that will now reflect the information United has compiled on individual travelers, like where they live and destinations they’ve traveled to. 

“We’ve built a first-of-its-kind, real-time, adtech-enabled traveler media network where brands have already started connecting to premium audiences at an unmatched scale,” Richard Nunn, CEO of United’s MileagePlus, said Friday in a statement announcing the launch. 

“There has been a huge strategic shift within this high-growth sector in the past five years, where advertisers and brands have come together to determine how best to connect with consumers in a way that’s valuable, effective and personalized,” according to Nunn.

The airline has nearly 100,000 seat-back screens across its fleet, with the potential for 3.5 hours of attention per traveler, based on average flight time.

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United said it would will only use information on passengers 18 and older, and all customers have the option of opting-out of the targeted advertising at any time.

The Department of Transportation in March disclosed an industrywide review of data security and privacy policies across the nation’s biggest airlines to determine if they are adequately protecting passengers’ personal information.

“Airline passengers should have confidence that their personal information is not being shared improperly with third parties or mishandled by employees,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated in a statement at the time.

Kate Gibson

Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York, where she covers business and consumer finance.

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