of using transit advertising include the following:
1. Exposure. Long length of exposure to an ad is one major advantage of indoor forms. The average ride on mass transit is 45 minutes, allowing for plenty of exposure time.12 As with airline tickets, the audience is essentially a captive one, with nowhere else to go and nothing much to do. As a result, riders are likely to read the ads—more than once. A second form of exposure transit advertising provides is the absolute number of people exposed. About 9 million people ride mass transit every week, and over 9.4 billion rides were taken in 2001, providing a substantial number of potential viewers.13
2. Frequency. Because our daily routines are standard, those who ride buses, subways, and the like are exposed to the ads repeatedly. If you rode the same subway to work and back every day, in one month you would have the opportunity to see the ad 20 to 40 times. The locations of station and shelter signs also afford high frequency of exposure.
3. Timeliness. Many shoppers get to stores on mass transit. An ad promoting a product or service at a particular shopping area could be a very timely communication.
4. Geographic selectivity. For local advertisers in particular, transit advertising provides an opportunity to reach a very select segment of the population. A purchase of a location in a certain neighborhood will lead to exposure to people of specific ethnic backgrounds, demographic characteristics, and so on.
5. Cost. Transit advertising tends to be one of the least expensive media in terms of both absolute and relative costs. An ad on the side of a bus can be purchased for a very reasonable CPM.
Some disadvantages are also associated with transit:
1. Image factors. To many advertisers, transit advertising does not carry the image they would like to represent their products or services. Some advertisers may think having their name on the side of a bus or on a bus stop bench does not reflect well on the firm.
2. Reach. While an advantage of transit advertising is the ability to provide exposure to a large number of people, this audience may have certain lifestyles and/or behavioral characteristics that are not true of the target market as a whole. For example, in rural or suburban areas, mass transit is limited or nonexistent, so the medium is not very effective for reaching these people.
3. Waste coverage. While geographic selectivity may be an advantage, not everyone who rides a transportation vehicle or is exposed to transit advertising is a potential customer. For products that do not have specific geographic segments, this form of advertising incurs a good deal of waste coverage.
Another problem is that the same bus may not run the same route every day. To save wear and tear on the vehicles, some companies alternate city routes (with much stop and go) with longer suburban routes. Thus, a bus may go downtown one day and reach the desired target group but spend the next day in the suburbs, where there may be little market potential.
4. Copy and creative limitations. It may be very difficult to place colorful, attractive ads on cards or benches. And while much copy can be provided on inside cards, on the outside of buses and taxis the message is fleeting and short copy points are necessary.
5. Mood of the audience. Sitting or standing on a crowded subway may not be conducive to reading advertising, let alone experiencing the mood the advertiser would like to create. Controversial ad messages may contribute to this less than positive feeling. Likewise, hurrying through an airport may create anxieties that limit the effectiveness of the ads placed there.
In summary, an advantage for one product or service advertiser may be a disadvantage for another. Transit advertising can be an effective medium, but one must understand its strengths and weaknesses to use it properly.
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