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10 $1,200 50% $1,109 $1,046 40% $1,000 $994 $889 $883 30% $821 $816 $801 $800 $756 20% 10% $600 $574 Transit ($ Millions) 0% Percent Change vs. Prior Year $400 -10% -20% $200 -30% $0 -40% 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Source: Outdoor Advertising Association of America (2). Figure 1. Transit media sales, 19972007. Scope of the Study · Sales: Are the approaches to selling transit media currently used by advertising sales contractors effective? An obvious candidate for a leading obstacle to transit adver- · Management: Are public transit agencies, in managing tising growth is the presumed poor image of transit advertis- contracts with advertising sales organizations, doing every- ing. It is common to hear people in the industry express the thing they could do to support growth in advertising sales? belief that advertisers perceive transit advertising to be unexcit- ing, dirty, and for downscale audiences. Clearly, not only did In short, the research team knew that the marketing of tran- the image and perceptions of the ultimate purchaser of transit sit advertising needed to be addressed, from positioning to advertising need to be understood, but also the extent to which communications, promotion, pricing, and product design these perceptions constituted a barrier to greater demand. and innovation. But, as with all businesses, other functional The fix for image issues would typically include more strate- areas needed to be assessed for possible obstacles to growth, gic communication to media decision makers of the benefits of as well. So, in the research, the team touched on sales, con- transit advertising. In addition to understanding the image tracting for sales and maintenance operations, and transit issues that needed to be addressed, however, the research team agency management of contracts. Thus, the research team also needed to explore the mechanics of media selection. was able to achieve what it believes to be a comprehensive Specifically, the research team needed to understand where the assessment of the obstacles to--as well as opportunities for-- leverage lies in decisions of media selection: is it with the adver- significant transit advertising growth. tisers or with the media planners who serve the advertisers? The research team also needed to understand the competitive set within which the media decision maker places transit media. Research Objectives This need informs the question: Does transit media's selling The overall research objective was to identify major obsta- message need to make it more compelling than billboards, all cles to the growth of transit advertising sales and to provide out-of-home media, or every type of media available? direction for how to address the issues. The intent was to With the extent of growth desired, the search for obsta- develop strategy recommendations for each of the three par- cles to growth needed to be as comprehensive as possible. ties in position to influence how transit advertising is offered Therefore, the research team looked beyond positioning to the marketplace. These three parties are the advertising and communications issues at such factors as: sales contractors, the public transit industry association and, of course, the transit agencies, themselves. · The product: Are media planners and advertisers satisfied On the purchasing side of the equation, there are two par- with how the product performs? ties: advertisers, the ultimate purchasers of media, and media · Pricing: Could price and production costs be a barrier to planners, the advisors to advertisers. Clearly understanding greater usage? each party's perceptions of transit advertising was important.