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Fri, Jan 12, 2007

TSA Contemplates Advertisements In Security Bins

This Invasive Search Sponsored By...

The Transportation Security Administration says it understands the frustration of waiting... shoeless... for your personal effects to be irradiated. So they're proposing to provide you reading material.

Soon, when you reach for the gray, plastic bin to hold your laptop or shoes, you could see advertisements on the insides of the bins. That's just what the situation was screaming for, right? On paper, however, it looks like a good deal all the way around.

The TSA gets private advertisers to buy new bins, and might generate a half-million dollars a year in new revenue, with some going to airports. Ad companies who arrange the placements would earn fees... and advertisers would have a unique new way to communicate their messages.

But is this the best environment in which to woo prospective customers? Joe Ambrefe, who sells ads on bins used in a test of the idea at Los Angeles International Airport, says consumers have a "heightened sense of awareness" while going through security.

Not everyone agrees with that justification, however.

"There definitely is a concern," Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan told USA Today. "We don't want to do anything that's going to confuse passengers... Any advertising needs to be subtle."

In the Los Angeles test, the airport got no money, but private ad placement company SecurityPoint spent a quarter-million dollars to buy 3,000 new bins, 190 tables and 288 carts for moving bins back to the front of the line. LAX management said the lines have moved faster during the test.

But what about the effectiveness of the ads? Most airports are already what could be politely termed "ad-rich" environments. Mark Lieberman of Interspace Airport Advertising says that for advertisers, the inside of the security bin, quote, "is not a particularly compelling location."

Despite the naysayers, 40 airports have already been pitched on the idea... so it's probably only a matter of time until we start seeing these ads. At least, for a second, until they're covered up with your coat, purse, and a one-quart plastic bag.

FMI: www.tsa.gov

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