Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.
Driving Home a Message
Have you ever stopped at a red light, looked up and then seen an advertisement for, say, that new soda you've been thinking about trying? There is it, displayed in all its fizzy glory, on the side of a city bus.
Some people may think this type of advertising is outdated or ineffective, yet the marketing you see on the sides of buses, in subway cars, and at transit stations where people enter or disembark from public transportation definitely has its place. Think about how many people might see your message inside the busy subways of New York City!
The goal of this transit media, or, transit advertising, is simple: to promote your brand to the millions of people who travel the country's streets and highways every day. You don't even have to be someone who takes public transportation to be impacted - remember the ad you saw sitting beside that bus at the red light? Transit media works whether you're traveling by bus, car, or even walking on the sidewalk. Let's take a closer look at this longtime form of advertising.
What is Transit Media?
You probably have a pretty good idea already based on the opening of this lesson, but transit media refers to advertising placed in, on, or around modes of public transportation: buses, subways, and taxis, as well as at bus, train, and subway stations. Transit media can be a great way to reach a really diverse audience: families traveling to daycares, professionals heading to work, tourists navigating a new town, or even students making their way to a local coffee shop.
Like any form of advertising, transit media comes with some distinct advantages as well as pitfalls to avoid. In the next section, we'll explore both sides of the transit media coin.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Transit Media
Whether or not transit media is a fit for your business may depend on how you rank its benefits and drawbacks. Here's a few of each to help you decide.
1. Price: There are hundreds of advertising options out there for your business, ranging from free to quite expensive. Transit media falls on the lower end of the cost spectrum, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on placement and your market.
2. Exposure: Have you ever tried to turn off an advertisement on the side of the bus? Of course not, because you can't. Transit media is always on and available where people are known to be. It also helps that nearly all transit ads are available at eye level with large graphics and text.
3. Targeting: If you're trying to reach a specific audience, targeted advertisements in transit media can be a great way to deliver the right message at the right time. For example, if you have a new product for young professionals, using transit advertising on subways where young professionals are traveling back and forth to work could be a great fit.
4. Flexibility: Whether you need a small advertisement in a bus station or a ''moving billboard'' traveling around town, transit media offers flexible options for every marketer. Maybe you hit consumers with a one-two punch, by advertising in the subway station as well as aboard the train, where commuters are sitting for 30 minutes to an hour or more.
5. Frequency: The key to driving home your message is being in a consumer's face at the right time. When could be better than when a mom is headed to the grocery store and sees a reminder of your product splashed on the side of a bus?
1. Limited messaging: While it's true that transit media can be large and eye-catching, it always must be quick to read and process. After all, if you're sitting in traffic, you need to be able to read and digest the message of the ad in a split second before the medium has turned the corner - literally.
2. Fatigue: Consumers are more and more conditioned to disregard advertising messages, whether they're on television or inside the subway car that consumers travel five days a week. People can become fatigued viewing and responding to transit media, just as they can with any other form.
3. Availability: What if you live in an area with limited transit media options? Many areas don't have a robust public transportation system, so transit media in this type of environment may be less successful.
4. Distraction and Detraction: Whether it's someone talking loudly on the phone seated next to you in traffic, or an accident you narrowly avoid, there are plenty of things vying for people's attention on the road. Consider also the impact that vandalism, graffiti, or even weather could have in detracting from your media.
5. Image concerns: Depending on the product or service you're advertising, transit locations may not be the right fit for your branding. Would an advertisement for an expensive designer wedding band be the right fit for a waiting area at a bus station? Perhaps not.
Transit media is literally advertising centered on wheels, whether it's plastered on a bus, in a subway car, or in a station where the public is gathering to travel from one place to another. For many brands, transit media is a smart choice because of reduced costs, broad exposure, and opportunities to target a particular audience. For others, drawbacks such as consumer fatigue, distractions, and concerns about the brand's fit with the type of transit medium may be a deal-breaker for this type of advertising.
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