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The Advantages of Transit Advertising

Want to catch the attention of commuters? Try advertising on buses and in transit stations.
March 18, 2005
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/76826

Editor's note: This article was excerpted from Advertising Without an Agency , available from Entrepreneur Press.

Where do you advertise when you want to reach everybody? Transit advertising--placement of print ads on buses and other vehicles and in bus shelters and train stations--is an important medium for reaching an audience of all ages, backgrounds and incomes. You are not just addressing riders with these "moving billboards." You are reaching families and professionals in their vehicles, students shopping or right on campus, and tourists finding their way around town.

Why Use Transit Advertising?

At one time, advertisers tended to shy away from internal transit advertising because of the perception of who the bus rider might be. Was the desired audience the person who could not afford a car? Today, concern for the environment and the popularity of programs such as Park-and-Ride have caused a wide range of business professionals, teachers, college students, and many other types of workers to leave their vehicles in mall parking lots and ride the bus to and from their jobs. It saves them the often high cost of parking and the wear-and-tear on their cars and provides them the opportunity to review material for a morning meeting, study, or just relax and gather their thoughts for the busy day ahead. The cards displayed inside the bus reach passengers who spend an average of 30-40 minutes on the bus . . . and your ad is there for them to read the whole time.

Not only can you reach some very upscale customers on the inside of the bus, but you can also reach a large variety of people by advertising on the more traditional exterior signs. Available in various shapes and sizes, exterior bus signs display advertising messages to thousands of people in cars as well as pedestrians. Buses travel through cities and outlying suburban areas, to shopping malls, universities, business districts, amusement centers, supermarkets, theaters and convention sites. Local customers as well as visitors to your area will be exposed to your large moving messages.

Types of Bus Advertising

You can buy all of the signs--inside and out--on one vehicle for tremendous impact. These "super-buses" or "mega-buses" can be fun buses to charter for special events.

In the last few years it has become more popular than ever in certain cities to "wrap" an entire bus with the theme of a company, a product, a museum, even camouflage wrap for an Army recruiting campaign. If it isn't all the rage in your city yet, it's coming--so don't be afraid to be the first to wrap a bus! These giant moving advertisements are impossible to miss and are a lot of fun to look at. A bus wrap is an expensive proposition and you will generally be required to sign a contract that will keep you paying rent on your bus for a minimum of one year. But if you have the budget and your company or product lends itself to the size and shape of a bus, you can get a lot of mileage (no pun intended) from this form of advertising. Discounts are available for buying multiple signs and for multiple-month contracts.

Now, if you don't want to wrap an entire bus, you can purchase one side and the back or one side and the front and share the bus with another advertiser. You can also purchase just the back or just the front of a bus.

Outdoor billboards and transit signs are very effective when used together, whether it is a full outdoor billboard or repeating your own store sign. The combination keeps some of your signs anchored and some mobile for great coverage.

Designs and Schedules

When considering your design, treat the signs as moving billboards. People won't have a chance to look at the message for a long period of time, so use bright colors to attract attention and simple ideas with just a few words for effective transit advertising.

Whether you advertise in, on or all over the bus, you can sometimes request that your bus travel on very specific routes or, if your message has broad audience appeal, on many routes so as to cover your maximum desired audience throughout your contract period. Your bus company will provide you with a complete list of routes.

If you plan on being a regular transit advertiser, speak to the director of marketing at your local bus company about placing an ad in the next batch of schedules printed. Schedules are usually updated annually, so if you decide to do this, use a generic ad that won't become outdated over that period of time.