Everything You Need to Know About Bus Advertising

bus advertising

In the information era, it has never been harder to win consumers’ attention. Tech giants like Facebook, Netflix, and Google have amplified brand awareness, transforming digital marketing as we know it. So, why then have these online platforms – the kings of online advertising – ironically turned to out-of-home advertising when introducing their newest product or feature?

The reason is simple: If you want to spread the word and get people talking about your brand, you go with one of the oldest and most enduring forms of advertising — out-of-home. You simply can’t ignore OOH. It includes everything from billboards and posters to displays in airports, shopping malls, and transit vehicles.

PwC estimated ad revenues of $8.4 billion in 2021 — by 2025, spend is estimated to reach $12.1 billion (CAGR 11.7%). OOH is expected to have overtaken both newspaper ($11.9 billion) and consumer magazine ($11.6 billion) advertising by that time.

Now, can you guess one of the most impactful forms of out-of-home media? You might be surprised to learn that it’s transit advertising. According to the American Public Transit Association (APTA), transit advertising generates over half a billion dollars, reaching up to 83% of commuters on weekdays and 69% on weekends.

What is bus advertising?

Bus advertising (often referred to as “billboards on wheels”) is a form of transit advertising that belongs to the out-of-home advertising channel. Transit advertising refers to any promotional materials that aim to catch customers outdoors or when they are not at home. It is a form of OOH advertising where advertisements are placed in or on modes of public transportation or in public transportation areas. Examples of transit advertising include ads placed on the sides of buses, trains, and taxis, inside subway cars and bus stations, and near train or bus platforms.

Why use transit advertising?

Bus advertising markets to consumers in a direct and easy-to-understand format. The advantages of placing advertisements on buses include:

  • Ads can’t be turned off like a TV or digital ad
  • Unlike radio ads, transit advertising reaches drivers and passengers no matter what radio stations they’re tuned into
  • You reach a wide variety of audience
  • There are a variety of ad sizes, locations, and creatives to choose from
Geographic Targeting

Bus advertising delivers clear messaging that centers around food, hospitality, fashion, upcoming events, listings, lifestyle branding, and many other areas. You see these messages wrapped around a bus, used in bus shelters, and inside the vehicle to give consumers a reason to look.

If your ads are inside a bus, you have a captive audience in the passengers for the duration of their ride. For external ads, you’re within range of passing cars, pedestrians, and bus riders for more extended periods when at stoplights, at bus stops, and stuck in the periodic traffic that’s inevitable along most urban bus routes.

How effective are bus ads?

This OOH advertising channel is so effective because of its extensive reach aimed to target just about everyone within eyesight. Furthermore, bus advertising effectively reaches both men and women of varying age groups and is not generally gender-based. The ads are for everyone to see!

 If you commute, are a public transit patron, or a walker/driver in city neighborhoods, you’re not a stranger to bus advertising — there’s no way around it. A bus is essentially a moving billboard, following commuters, pedestrians, and drivers throughout the day, providing far more exposure than a regular billboard could. Therefore, exterior bus ads can generate a mass reach very quickly.

bus advertising

A bright, colorful design with short copy makes or breaks a bus advertisement. If it’s not immediately eye-catching, passersby won’t glance back at it. The goal is to make a lasting impression that viewers can recall later. Fortunately, most exterior bus ads follow this rule and effectively communicate with their audiences.

How do you advertise on a bus?

Bus advertisements are produced on digitally or screen-printed transit vinyl. Advertisers can purchase space on the inside of buses or the outside. Continue reading learn how to advertise on buses in five short steps.

1)    Choose the cities you wish to target

Most large, medium and small metropolitan areas across the country have a bus system.

2)    Calculate your budget

This critical step will determine the ad formats you choose. Marketing experts generally recommend allocating about 10% of a company’s total annual revenue to advertising. Of that amount, about 30% to outdoor advertising, 40% of which should go to bus advertising. Although each organization’s budget is different, it’s important to realize that a certain amount is suggested to see results.   

3)    Pick the bus ad formats that best suit your needs and budget

Various formats are available for bus advertising. For example:

  • King and Queen Signs are displayed on the exterior sides of the bus
  • Tail Signs are placed on the backs of buses
  •  Interior Cards are displayed near the ceiling on the interior of buses
  • Bus Wraps are ads that cover the entire bus with a specific theme for the ad campaign (e.g., upcoming movie premiers)

4)    Choose a start date and advertising duration 

Pick a start date that coincides with the launch of a new product or service and/or with the beginning of other advertising formats (e.g., radio ads). It’s a good idea to book bus ad space early because space tends to sell out, particularly in the third and fourth quarters. The first and second quarters are generally more available.

 Also, remember to choose an advertising duration. The minimum duration is four weeks. The recommended duration is 12 weeks, proven to provide better results for most advertisers. 

5)    Contact a bus ads company for a quote and availability

The last step is to contact a bus advertising company to get a quote and check availability. Jungle Communications can coordinate the bus advertising space, production, and installation in cities throughout the U.S.

How much does it cost to advertise on a bus?

Advertisers utilize bus advertising because they are guaranteed a great reach at an affordable cost, depending on size, area, and longevity. The recommended minimum spend is: 

  •  $10,000/month for larger cities
  • $5,000/month for medium-size cities
  • $2,500/month for smaller cities/towns

How do you advertise your business at a bus stop?

A common misconception is that bus stop and shelter advertisements are designed to reach people who ride the bus. However, bus shelter advertising serves as a small billboard to grab the attention of vehicles and passersby on the sidewalk.

 Advertising at bus stops is an excellent way to target a local audience. You know that everyone who views a bus stop ad lives, works, or commutes in close proximity, so there is no uncertainty about geographically targeting specific groups. As a bonus, bus stop ads are easy to customize for different regions to make them more relevant.

How do you advertise on a bus bench?

Many companies overlook one advertising option — the space available on bus benches. The front of a bus bench has room to hold a rectangular advertisement that’s large enough for pedestrians, bus passengers, and drivers to read in passing throughout the day. And it’s more economical compared with standard print advertisements.

Often, bus bench ads are managed by outdoor or street advertising firms. If you do not see ads posted on the benches where you want to advertise, contact your local public transportation authority for information on how to advertise on existing benches. The public transportation company commonly owns these benches.

What is bus shelter branding?

Advertising your company’s products or services on bus shelters gets your message in front of thousands of potential buyers. In addition to attracting people waiting for the bus, your ads are seen by people in passing vehicles and pedestrians walking past the shelters. The key to using shelter advertising starts with researching and understanding your audience’s demographics, so your ads appear in the spots that help enhance your brand.

In Conclusion

Bus advertising continues to be effective due to its large reach, its ability to connect with viewers both emotionally and momentarily, and its vast number of interior and exterior displays catering to more than just the daily commuter. 

If you have questions about bus advertising or pricing, we’d be happy to give you a free consultation. We’ll discuss the results you can expect for your brand or business and whether bus advertising is right for you.

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