Taxiing Advertising in China

Shanghai taxis transport 90 million riders per month. Passengers sit in traffic an average of 18 minutes. Shanghai-based advertising company Touchmedia says those are the ingredients that have helped it raise around $40 million from investors, including a just-completed funding round over $14.6 million in the midst of the young Chinese venture capital industry’s toughest period yet.

Yet, while its funding is secure, Touchmedia increasingly faces a backlash from its target market: taxi passengers.

In many Shanghai taxis, a Touchmedia screen is installed in the head rest, putting the device inches from a rider’s face. The touch-friendly screen shows video clips, poses quizzes, chirps out music and otherwise begs to engage the rider with interactive content. Most of the content is infotainment from big brands like Walt Disney Co. (DIS), Pepsico Inc. (PEP) and L’oreal S.A.

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