• Audio Ads Expand on Transit

    With permission from OAAA.

    A growing number of transit systems are signing deals for audio ads and text-scroll messaging as new sources of non-fare revenue. The sales pitch is similar to other out of home platforms: low cost-per-thousand (CPM) rates for ads that target hard-to-reach mobile consumers. In November, Metro bus riders in Washington, DC, began hearing 15-second ads for the intra-city Megabus service. Geolocation technology synched the Megabus audio ads to locations near college campuses.

    DC’s transit system is guaranteed $250,000 a year from CommuterAds, a Dayton, OH-based firm that has signed audio-ad agreements with more than a dozen transit agencies in:

    • Champaign
    • Chicago
    • Cincinnati
    • Cleveland
    • Columbus
    • Dayton
    • Des Moines
    • Kansas City
    • Lexington
    • Milwaukee
    • San Bernardino
    • Tampa
    • Toledo

    The expansion of audio ads occurs as transit faces declining ridership, deferred maintenance, and competition from ride-sharing Uber and Lyft.

    Legendary ad writer Stuart Elliott wrote about start-up company CommuterAds 10 years ago in The New York Times. He explained how founder Russell Gottesman, then 32, got the idea while riding on a Chicago transit train after a White Sox game. “We were in the Loop, passing Chinatown, and it dawned on me that a local restaurant interested in separating itself from other local restaurants in a two-block radius from the El stop could take 10-second advertisements and talk to a captive audience on a train,” Gottesman told Elliott in 2008.

    He launched the concept on buses in Dayton, OH, selling ads by time of day and-or location. Transit officials in Atlanta and Cleveland told The Washington Post that riders got used to audio ads after some initial griping.

    Many of the ads offer deals and incentives, said the marketing director for Atlanta’s transit authority.



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