Costco Building Ad Business; United Airlines Personalises Flight Ads; New York Passes Bill Limiting Addictive Social Media

On today’s news digest: Costco Building Ad Business; United Airlines Personalises Flight Ads; New York Passes Bill Limiting Addictive Social Media

Costco is the latest of many to reveal plans to build out an ad business. The retailer – which is the third largest in the US – will build the ad network using data on shopping habits and past purchases from its 74.5 million household members. Costco is in a particularly strong position, with its membership cards being a requirement to shop, unlike most other retailers. It intends to roll out target ad capabilities on and off its website. Currently, the retailer is carrying out beta testing using its audience data to target users on other websites – the plan is to eventually test targeting on its own site. 

United Airlines has also been busy working on its ad business. The airline’s in-flight advertising has taken off with the launch of Kinective Media, a new platform which matches brands to audiences. Ads are personalised for passengers based on their travel details such as origin and destination city, in addition to other personal details like age (passengers are able to opt out if they wish to). The ads appear on their allocated seat screen alongside the entertainment options and in a 30-second ad before each chosen programme. Personalisation is also harnessed by the airline’s mobile app to serve ads from retailers with stores in the passenger’s vicinity. Although limited to US departures for the moment, the airline plans to expand this to international flights.  

In the legal landscape, the state of New York has passed a bill which would prohibit social media companies from showing children under the age of 18 “addictive feeds”, unless parental content is obtained. The New York governor is expected to sign the bill. The legislation defines an addictive social media feed as one which recommends or prioritises content based on personal information from a user or their device, which would certainly complicate matters for most social platforms, including giants like TikTok and Instagram. Under the legislation, social media platforms would be required to verify users’ ages. The bill is facing some industry opposition, such as from trade group NetChoice (whose members include Meta), which claims that the act is unconstitutional. 

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