3 Considerations When Using Bus Advertising in Your Local Media Mix

local media strategy

Depending on your local media campaign objectives and creative message, bus advertising may be a good fit for your media mix.

Transit is a broad category that can include various forms of transportation like buses, trains and air travel.   Similar to other out-of-home tactics like outdoor billboards, transit advertising is usually considered to be a reach medium, which is great for a branding or an awareness campaign.  Most transit executions are used to reach the general public as well as those using public transit.

First, you want to consider where you want to put your message. You can display your message on the bus exterior, interior or on the street furniture at bus stops.

Advertising on the exterior of a bus will create a broad reach since you are turning the bus into a mobile billboard.  There are several options for exterior advertising: headlight displays, taillight displays or the sides of the bus. There are options to include “extensions” on most creative executions as well as a full bus wrap.

The Out-of-Home Association of America has a comprehensive list of options and general terminology.

Before including bus advertising in your local media mix, consider the following:

1. Geography

Exterior or interior transit advertising is not conducive to hyper-local targeting like some other media such as mobile, but ask your transit partner for targeting opportunities that will help narrow your reach.  You may not be able to target to the route level but you can usually concentrate your message in a particular area of your market.

Narrowing the target geography will not only increase your effective reach, but it will also allow you to purchase fewer units, since you will display your message in the desired area.

If you are trying to reach people in a specific area, consider using bus shelters.  Similar to a billboard or poster campaign, you will be able to select specific locations.  If possible, ride these locations like you would posters and billboards.  Especially in downtown areas with one-way streets, make sure your location is facing the correct direction to reach vehicle and pedestrian traffic in addition to transit users.

2. Creative

Since the standard exterior units are a similar shape to traditional billboards and posters, it is generally easy to resize your existing outdoor creative for transit advertising.  This will help keep creative cost down and maintain consistency of your message.

But, also consider the unique opportunities of this tactic, like adding an “extension” or a “headliner.”  Before securing the inventory for your campaign, collect the options available in your market and consult with your creative team.  You may find ways to generate a greater impact with a small additional cost.

3. Campaign Length

Similar to other out-of-home tactics, consider your campaign length before including transit advertising in your local media campaign.  Especially if you are considering a full wrap, you will incur considerable production costs on top of the monthly media investment.   In order to maximize your ROI, consider a 6-month or annual contract.

There is also a longer lead-time to produce and install special creative executions on a bus.  So, make sure to plan ahead.  While this tactic may not be best suited for a promotion or special sale, if used well, it can be an effective way to communicate your branding message.

photo credit: Karen Roe via photopin cc

Shelby Nichols

About Shelby Nichols

Shelby is Director of Digital Media at Sheehy, a regional advertising, marketing and media agency. With close to 15 years in the industry she has planned and purchased a wide range of media and has a passion for all things digital.

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