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How one Brisbane company has added value to your next taxi fare

Digital Brisbane is actively seeding and nurturing a digital economy that will pave the way for Brisbane, Australia’s New World City to be a more connected and accessible city and a competitive player in the global digital economy.

Digital startup Fare Media is a fantastic example of the innovation that is driving Brisbane forward.

Fare Media knows a fair bit about the value of making a digital transition.

The company provides customisable advertising and content through touch-screens integrated into passenger-side headrests in taxis, but started in a far more traditional business sense.

Director Luke O’Connor originally ran a print publication before seeing the need to digitise the business model, which is a first in Australia.

Luke and his business partner Simon Wells came across the Taxi Passenger Entertainment technology in an international market, and set to work to bring the technology to Australia. They now have 400-plus screens in taxis in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, with plans to expand across Australia.

Luke spoke to Digital Brisbane about how the business evolved and why international partnerships have been vital for growth and success.

Fare Media 

When did you see the need to digitally transform your business from a print publication, and what were the steps you took to do so?

​“We started Haven for families in 2011, and by 2013 we noticed a distinct downturn in print revenue. Although things had stabilised by 2014, we decided to identify more diverse ways to share our content and gain ad revenues.

“Along with my business partner, Simon, we searched high and low for the right opportunity until Simon found the Taxi Passenger Entertainment Systems in Las Vegas. 

“After extensive research, we identified the reach potential and effectiveness of the media – and the fact that no such system was available in Australia – as a huge opportunity.

“We partnered with the world's largest manufacturer and operator of Taxi Entertainment technology, Touchmedia in Shanghai, and after two years of work we launched our product simultaneously in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.”

How does international collaboration help you to produce and develop your product?

​“Without our international partnership we would still be in the development phase of the technology.  We had a very tough time penetrating the taxi industry at first and complying to Australian Government regulations.  

“Touchmedia’s technology is over 12 years old and has been through seven different screen designs, with massive improvements with each new version. 

“If we had to do this level of development ourselves, getting the business off the ground would have been near impossible.​”

The product was inspired from an existing product. How have you further developed or added value to the product?

​“The product is widely available in the international market. Each region is slightly different to accommodate different laws and advertising outcomes.  In China, the screens are heavily integrated with WeChat to extend the advertising experience from the screen to the mobile.  We have developed RSS feeds to automatically update the screens with real-time data as well as SMS and data capture technology. 

“We are currently developing Google Analytics integration so we can give even greater insights to our advertising clients, and our biggest development in progress is social media integration.”

fare Media 

What are some of the barriers you faced entering the advertising market as a startup? How did you overcome these?

​“The barriers in the beginning were the same as we still face today and the same as any new tech business will face – that is proving the effectiveness of your product and establishing credibility. 

“Overcoming these barriers for us is all about showcasing the product and educating the advertisers about the product and how it can benefit their business or client. 

“We find that once a customer sees the product, they are blown away at how good it is. It is then just a matter of finding a fit for us in their marketing budgets and plan.”

What are some unexpected features of your product?

​“We have a couple of cool features that can be utilised.  One of those is GPS location-based advertising where we display a certain video on screen, or text in an app, dependant on location. We also have time-based publishing so you can turn ads on and off throughout the day or the week.

​Our system has analytics available for all campaigns that give an advertiser a breakdown on how many times their media has played, the interaction rate of their ​a​pp, amount of trips the media has played and audience reach.  This makes it extremely easy for advertisers to gauge their campaign effectiveness and ROI.” 

How big of a part does collaboration play in your business?

​“Effective partnerships are extremely important and provide the backbone to our business.  I am always extremely approachable and open to any business idea presented to me, which I think is important to any startup. 

“We are actively seeking partners to assist in expansion at the moment, as our aim is to grow our network by 600-700 per cent in the next year.”

​What does the future hold for Fare Media?

​“There are over 22,000 taxis in Australia, and our aim is to be in around 40 per cent of all taxis.  Our next expansion markets are Sydney and Melbourne, where we hope to install 2200 screens, and reinforce our Brisbane network with more than doubling its size. 

“Our goal in the next year is to go from reaching 600,000 people a month with our network to reaching over 130,000 per day, or close to 4 million people a month.”

Check out other case studies that might inspire your business goals here.


If you’re looking to learn more about the latest in social media, digital marketing, e-commerce and web design as it applies to your small business, why not attend one of Digital Brisbane’s Power-Up Small Business workshops?

They are held monthly at a variety of locations across Brisbane and feature different digital topics at each session.

Find more information here.

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