United Airlines Launches Media Network: Big Deal?

United Airlines Launches Media Network: Big Deal?

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United Airlines has announced that it’s launching the airline industry’s first media network. This seems logical enough, and should help to fund the carrier’s big investment in seat back entertainment. However, I’m not sure it’s as big of a deal as United is making it out to be.

The basics of Kinective Media by United Airlines

Kinective Media by United Airlines is the Chicago-based carrier’s new media network, which is described as the airline industry’s first media network that uses insights from travel behaviors to connect customers to personalized, real-time advertising, content, experiences, and offers, from leading brands.

The idea is that United is giving marketers the opportunity to scale their reach across a range of channels, including United’s mobile app and inflight entertainment screens:

  • United’s mobile app has 110+ million total downloads, and nearly 100 million sessions per month
  • United has nearly 100,000 seat back entertainment screens, and that number will only grow as United continues to add seat back screens throughout its narrow body fleet

With this initiative, advertisers can’t access the personally identifiable information of United customers. Instead, Kinective Media leverages insights of customers to create aggregated and anonymized audience segments that it offers to advertisers. MileagePlus members will receive more personalized and real-time offers and experiences.

Kinective Media is already working with brands like Norwegian Cruise Line, Macy’s, Chase United co-brand credit cards, TelevisaUnivision, IHG Hotels & Resorts, and more. The focus is on premium brand relationships across key verticals, such as retail, luxury goods, financial services, automotive, media brands, and travel.

Here’s how Richard Nunn, CEO of United MileagePlus, describes this new concept:

“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. Unlike some commerce media platforms, United gives brands across a wide range of industries the ability to reach engaged customers throughout the entire marketing funnel – from brand consideration to conversion – in a way that’s highly personalized and relevant, and we’re already seeing impressive results. 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.”

Branding for United Airlines’ new media company

My take on United Airlines’ new media initiative

I’m curious to see how this evolves, though I have a few initial thoughts. First of all, the new CEO of United MileagePlus was appointed around a year ago. Interestingly, he had no experience with loyalty, but instead his background was in “advertising technology, digital media and data expertise, building and scaling businesses globally, and leading media technology groups spanning the world.”

With United launching a new media network, I think we can all see that this has been part of United’s vision for some time. Meanwhile it seems like United isn’t actually doing much to improve MileagePlus, and instead, is devaluing miles. Heck, the press release even suggests that “MileagePlus members will receive additional value through more personalized and real-time offers and experiences that drive even greater loyalty.” I guess that’s how United is trying to “enhance” MileagePlus nowadays!

Now, I suspect the launch of this media company will certainly increase the numbers of ads across United’s app and seat back screens. Ultimately that’s not unreasonable, because United is investing a lot in these things, so it’s fair for the airline to try to recoup some of that through marketing opportunities.

Lastly, I’m not sure if this is actually supposed to be some huge deal that United thinks will make a material difference to its bottom line, or just something minor? Virtually all airlines have third party marketing through their various channels, from their websites, to their apps, to their entertainment systems.

Best I can tell, the only way this differs from what’s already out there is that the ads will be targeted more closely based on anonymized data. Is that really going to make such a difference to advertisers? I mean, airlines want to pitch credit cards to basically everyone, no? And when you’re advertising things as broad as IHG Hotels & Resorts, there’s not really much targeting required. I guess we’ll see…

United is investing in its aircraft interiors

Bottom line

United Airlines is launching a media network, named Kinective Media by United Airlines. While airlines already do a lot of marketing to their customers from third parties, what makes this unique is how United will be targeting these ads more closely, for a more tailored experience. I’m curious to see how lucrative this proves to be for the airline…

What do you make of the Kinective Media by United Airlines concept?

Conversations (12)
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  1. iamhere Guest

    I think it is not what you think it is. The media company currently operates for the other travel brands that you mentioned and more and will continue to do so. They just set up some separate branding and perhaps a separate company for a partnership with United.

  2. JJamesme Guest

    Great! Trapped in a crammed full aircraft and they areboasting about this plan to hit me with better ads. Bet i can turn it off for another fee

    1. UncleRonnie Gold

      You can read a book instead of looking at the screen.

  3. Eric R Guest

    I experienced this on United from NYC to Denver last week. The same ads repeat before every movie and show you pick, and you can’t skip them. So I watched the same ads for IHG, Norwegian and another company I can’t remember seven times during the three hour flight—about 15 minutes of my time. Very annoying—I am inclined to boycott the advertisers out of spite

    1. SMC422 Guest

      Haha I know right! I would be somewhat okay with ads if they varied completely every time I start a new movie or tv show.

  4. Goforride Gold

    if they're going to send me ads, I'd much rather get ones that are interesting. Every now and then, I dig into one of the targeted ads Youtube sends me.

  5. justlanded Guest

    The next "enhancement" will be ad-free entertainment for a fee (ala Amazon Prime.)

    If their targeting is as refined as displaying an ad for a hotel, restaurant, or retail store located in the city I'm flying into, that might add a little value. Otherwise, it's just more noise, in a noise-filled world...

  6. Peter Guest

    Well if I do have to see ads, then I prefer personalised ones that can actually be of some value to me rather then general BS adds like those on YouTube. YouTube is happy to show me advertising in a language I do not understand despite knowing a lot about me when being signed in with my Google profile. So annoying! If I can’t skip the add at least I would like to see something that may be of at least the slightest interested/value to me.

  7. Dick Bupkiss Guest

    Ads, ads, ads. What idiot thinks that "personalized, targeted" ads are wanted?

    When the ads start, the device goes off. Switched off with the middle finger.

  8. Ted Guest

    Oh good - more ads. Ugh.

    How many times do we have to pay for sh*t before we don’t have to watch yet more ads? I guess buying the airfare, checked bag, food/drinks and seat assignment fee just isn’t enough.

  9. DWT Guest

    Sounds like a more formalized version of what Delta is already starting to do with “Delta Sync” via the inflight WiFi portal (everyone has to log in to use the free WiFi) and what I believe they’re rolling out to their inflight screens as well

  10. Never In Doubt Guest

    On a long enough timeline, everyone sells ads.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Eric R Guest

I experienced this on United from NYC to Denver last week. The same ads repeat before every movie and show you pick, and you can’t skip them. So I watched the same ads for IHG, Norwegian and another company I can’t remember seven times during the three hour flight—about 15 minutes of my time. Very annoying—I am inclined to boycott the advertisers out of spite

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UncleRonnie Gold

You can read a book instead of looking at the screen.

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Goforride Gold

if they're going to send me ads, I'd much rather get ones that are interesting. Every now and then, I dig into one of the targeted ads Youtube sends me.

1
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