Transit Advertising in 2020

OOH Trends Jul 26, 2020

Overview of Public Transit Ridership

In British Columbia, ridership reached only 33% of pre-pandemic levels. With the spike of new cases in the province, uncertainty continues to loom over how transportation will rebound. In fact, TransLink’s updated revenue forecast models a range of $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion in cumulative losses in the worst-case scenario. This is not happening exclusively in the West Coast; a survey by the Toronto Transit Commission in June revealed that 41% of customers will use public transit like before, but 47% will decrease frequency. On top of it all, 10% of customers noted that they will never take Toronto’s public transit system again.

But just earlier this week, Jonathan Wilkinson, the Federal Environment Minister, announced a $540 million investment for public transit in BC. Cost-matched by British Columbia, this will provide immense support to public transit services struggling to keep afloat amidst the decline in transportation. Moreover, British Columbia recently announced the Broadway Subway project - a 5.7 kilometre westward extension of the Millenium Line from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street. While the news may not be an overwhelmingly positive signal for organizations to start investing in transit advertising right now, it is a reason for organizations to start keeping a pulse on transit advertising as a potential advertising channel.

Why Transit Advertising

Due to the decreased demand, transit advertising costs are anticipated to be lower than before. With newly enforced capacity constraints by transit agencies, marketers can leverage riders’ increased waiting times to reach target demographics in impactful and even unconventional ways. Not only are they extremely functional in that they offer repeated exposure, unlike television or social media advertisements, transit advertisements make for an organic way to reach people too.

How to Maximize Transit Advertising Spend

Like any other type of media planning, transit advertising requires an integrated approach too. Not only do transit advertisements need to be memorable and eye-catching, they do best when they are integrated with online experiences.

To begin, it is integral for advertisers to understand the habits and behaviours of the target demographic. While it may be especially difficult to pinpoint during this time as routines are uprooted, determining when the target market is most likely to be on transit, where they will be, in which communities they are located in are all relevant insights to start off with. By having a comprehensive understanding of the market’s behaviours, advertisers can more effortlessly choose transit advertisements spots that are better aligned. Platforms such as ours at Adsight support organizations in the selection process.

Next, it is integral for marketers to find ways to bridge the transit advertisement with their online experiences. There are a range of ways to do this but some of the most common examples include leveraging the use of QR codes, including website links, and incentivizing viewers to share the content on their personal social media platforms. Another effective way is to leverage digital transit advertisements; that way, marketers can even leverage augmented reality elements and/or feature engaging video content. If digital mediums are used, it brings an even greater level of dynamism because marketers would be able to change campaigns in real-time based on anything from time of day to weather - a key attribute that static advertisements do not offer.

Last but not least, it is recommended that marketers are very intentional with measuring the results of their transit advertisements. Whether that is using specific coupon codes, featuring unique hashtags, or measuring the lift of website traffic based on where the transit advertisements are located - measuring impact empowers advertisers to make the refinements needed to drive greater impact.

Why now?

Is it counterintuitive to start spending marketing dollars on transit advertising? Perhaps. Depending on your target market and your campaign goals, it might not yield as strong results as other channels. But with decreased costs, clear investments in transit infrastructure, and a gradual increase of ridership, there is an extremely large upside to choosing a cost efficient channel. If you have any questions on how you can leverage Adsight to help you launch your out-of-home advertising campaign, reach out to us here.

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