We're drawing ever-closer to the Philip K. Dickian


paradise in which all advertising is personalized according to the purchasing power of each individual consumer. (That means YOU, Kevin Spacey fan and likely Casino Jack ticket-buyer!) In a report on the booming taxi ad biz, the Times notes that people riding cabs through the East Village can now expect to see backseat TV ads for Blue Man Group, which performs on Lafayette Street. The theater troupe is just one of the advertisers "using the GPS devices in cabs to pinpoint when and where its commercials should play." They know where you are, and they're coming for you.

The Times also finds that VeriFone Media Solutions, which handles advertising sales for 12,000 yellow cabs, is reporting revenue up 60 percent in the past year. Care to guess how much of this ad money the hack sees? That's right, zero. But maybe in the future they can get a percentage if they drive more slowly through high ad neighborhoods? Right now some cab owners get a taste of the ad revenue, but not many. Owners pay the vendors to install the screens, which also enable passengers to pay by credit card.

The city doesn't see any of this ad money either, and David Yassky, the Taxi and Limousine commissioner, says that the city is hoping that as advertising revenue rises, vendors might "lower the fees they charge to cab owners, which could in turn reduce the pressure to increase fares." Sure, they might lower the fees, just like you might be able to flag a cab to go to Brooklyn outside Port Authority at shift change. And advertisers don't want downmarket outer borough fares any more than drivers: "Taxi riders are young, educated and upscale," reads a promotional pamphlet sent sent out by a vendor to potential clients. According to that pamphlet, nearly half of all taxi passengers earn more than $100,000 a year. And 85% of all passengers don't turn off the TVs (many of which are malfunctioning and can't be turned off anyway).