Airplane tray tables may soon get smarter, allowing travelers to plug personal tablets directly into the in-flight entertainment system or Wi-Fi, potentially opening another channel for advertisers to target ads based on what passengers watch.
Smart Tray International, which makes airline tray tables that let tablets share cramped seatback space with snacks and other items, has teamed up with Clear Channel Airports to add in-flight digital advertising to its arsenal of services.
"Airlines are always looking for ancillary revenue and often subcontract generating some of that revenue to other companies," Smart Tray CEO Nick Pajic said in an interview.
"Now that passengers may use their personal electronic devices gate-to-gate, our company can provide a device that makes it easier to use tablets, while Clear Channel can generate advertising" that creates shared revenue when the devices are plugged into the on-board network, he added.
(Read more: Airport upgrades: Changing rooms, outdoor plazas)
In-air advertising is a growing market. RMG Networks, which runs RMG Airline Media, estimates the current market for air travel advertising at $300 million.
"In particular, we've seen a tremendous leap in advertiser interest around in-flight digital campaigns," RMG CEO Garry McGuire said via email. "We expect growth to be driven by advertiser demand and ... inventory as more carriers upgrade their fleets and install Wi-Fi and digital seatback entertainment systems."