These Ads Are Just About Everywhere

Earlier this week, Delta Airlines announced plans that will turn its boarding passes into advertising opportunities, or billboards, hawking destination-specific businesses and products. An Omaha-based startup, Sojern, is behind this advertising offer, which is going to be adopted by four airlines in addition to Delta: American, Continental, United and US Airways. Given that airlines are in such a desperate position, mostly because of their incompetency, they are ready to try anything, however strange it might seem.

Now there is word that IDT Corp., a calling-card company, is going to start using advertising messages on its pre-paid calling cards. Using technology from in-call advertising startup VoodooVox, IDT will hawk marketing and advertising messages that are matched to a caller’s demographic profile. For instance, if someone was calling the Dominican Republic, an ad for an airline would be piped in while the caller is waiting for his call to connect. IDT sells about 17.5 million pre-paid calling cards every month.

Given the razor-thin margins in the long-distance business, I am not surprised IDT is going down this path, but I wonder if they will use some of the fat CPMs from advertising to offer cheaper or near-free long-distance calls. Now that would be cool, and perhaps something to which an audience — who might get annoyed by ads intruding their calls — would be somewhat receptive.

These two examples make me ask the question: Are we getting so saturated with ads that they will just become meaningless and lose their entire effectiveness?