Here at Copper, we are always excited for opportunities to better target customers and create effective marketing communications so we were very interested to hear about the plans for Tube trains. Not only do they offer the potential of driverless trains (very sci-fi) but they will also offer wifi to passengers.
The morning commute on the underground is usually an internet free zone (apart from the bits of the underground that are actually over ground) which can result in positive and negative sentiment for commuters. There is the relief from knowing that you have an excuse not to answer calls, reply to emails and generally zone out with the rest of the bleary eyed morning zombies, which could be seen as a positive. However, not being able to let people know if you are stuck in a delay or running late for a meeting can be frustrating. As can generally not having access to the wonders associated with an internet connection – this often leads to boredom followed by leaning over our neighbour’s shoulder to read the newspaper they have cannily picked up, much to their annoyance.
But alas no longer! The future has been unveiled, and on-the-move connectivity is a large part of it.
Wifi is already available at tube stations thanks to Virgin Media’s collaboration with TFL but new trains being released in the not too distant future will have on-board Wifi, which should mean no interruptions and a whole new area of opportunities for marketers to target. Marketing messages targeted at tube commuters will be the thing of the future, you can book an Uber to pick you up from the station while stuck in delays between Baker Street and Great Portland Street so you are not late for work. Imagine eyeing up the shoes of someone sat opposite; you won’t have to wait to find out where they are from or miss the opportunity completely. What about the options for dating apps? Forget the ads which state ‘imagine if everyone in this tube carriage was single’ – you can find out, in real time.
Marketers will be able to target relevant messages, catching commuters at the right time and place and creating a whole new dynamic with different social situations which were not currently available for targeting in the online remit.
The new trains will also feature digital screens displaying advertisements in the place of the current paper. This could lead to whole new formats (240x564mm anyone?) of digital ad becoming in demand, as well as allowing rotation of marketing messages on the screens – potentially creating higher levels of advertising revenue for TFL and its partners. Commuters will be able to interact with ads in real time on their phones, and whilst still a captive audience, the opportunity for creativity is huge and the levels of interaction are likely to be phenomenal – we might find we will be looking at the future most effective advertising medium.
So with Apple Pay meaning we can pay on our phones, wifi throughout the underground, interactive digital marketing messages on the tube and the potential for driverless trains in the future, it seems that London is moving into a new digital age. The opportunities for marketers are endless and so is our excitement, just a small wait now…
Hannah is a Digital Producer at Copper.