One of the biggest issues with the subway, at least here in New York, boils down to cold hard cash. Even more than the busking, the rats, and the ooze, last year’s subway fare hike caused many NYC residents to lose their damn minds. But what if—y’know, instead of reducing the fare—we just got advertising to pay for it?
It’s already happening in Miami. Today, the tech behemoth Cubic Corporation announced it’d be piloting a new “loyalty rewards platform” with the Miami Dade transit system as its first client. Through the partnership, bus and train-goers are offered “loyalty points” for sitting through ads playing on the Transit authority’s native app—and these points can be used to subsidize transit ride, or pay for them entirely.
Real talk—we all know that advertising is insanely intrusive and ugly as hell, aside from being creepy as hell. But there’s no denying that “incentivized” or “rewarded” advertising just... works, especially when there’s something valuable waiting on the other side. I might not sit through an ad while playing games on my phone—even if they’re offering a level up or an extra life. I will damn sure sit through an ad if it’s gonna pay for my subway ride (albeit begrudgingly).
Of course, this juicy incentive comes with the ever-present reminder that your eyeballs are worth hundreds of millions to Big Tech Conglomerates and the advertisers they work with for one reason: to sell you shit, no matter the cost. Sitting through a Nike ad to pay off a ride might sound spectacular, but it’s less spectacular when that ad is following you around the entire internet (and then retargeting you once you’ve left).
Not to mention the possibility that data is being shared with the transit authority in question is downright creepy, to say the least.
There’s no word yet if other cities are going to pick up a similar rewards program to Miami’s initiative, but Cubic mentioned in the initial release that the platform is open to any transit agency with an “existing mobile transit [app], or future app innovations.”