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United Airlines starts serving passengers personalized ads on seat-back screens

Now playing on United Airlines' seat-back screens: personalized ads.

The carrier on Friday said it launched a media platform to serve travelers personalized advertisements on seat-back screens and in its app, among other platforms, as it seeks to leverage customer data.

United said its new platform, Kinective Media, is already working with Norwegian Cruise Line, Macy's, IHG Hotels & Resorts, TelevisaUnivision and JPMorgan Chase, which offers a host of co-branded credit cards with United.

The platform is the latest example of airlines trying to drum up new lines of revenue and leverage their lucrative loyalty programs. Delta Air Lines said in early 2023 that it would start offering free Wi-Fi to customers if they were registered members of its SkyMiles frequent flyer program.

"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," Richard Nunn, CEO of United's MileagePlus loyalty program, said in a news release.

United declined to provide projected sales from the initiative.

Customers can opt out of seeing targeted ads through a United web page, and United says advertisers can't access customers' personally identifiable information, the airline said.

"There is the potential for 3.5 hours of attention per traveler, based on average flight time," United said.

The airline is in the midst of a massive upgrade of its narrow-body cabins, including its in-flight entertainment system with new screens and other features, though supply chain problems have delayed some of the aircraft