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62 CHAPTER 4 Conclusions, Recommendations and Further Research Conclusions Transit advertising's greatest perceived strength is in reach- ing captive audiences. The overarching conclusion is that transit advertising is With the exception of reaching captive audiences, bill- well positioned to grow, assuming that the overall economy boards are perceived to fulfill every function that transit cooperates and the advertising business as a whole keeps grow- media offer, only better. ing. The outlook from organizations that track media trends is Transit is seen as a supplemental, second tier medium. that the shifting of dollars out of traditional media and into Transit media's strengths are not aligned with what is most non-traditional formats will continue. In particular, out-of- important to media planners. home media, as a category, will remain one of the fastest grow- Perceptions that transit media are effective, reliable and ing sectors of advertising spending. This forecast is consonant efficient are moderate to weak. with the belief that the benefits offered by transit advertising Perceptions that transit media are expensive are prevalent. align well with the current needs of advertisers. Perceptions that transit media are not clean are prevalent. However, as a medium in competition with billboards, news- Perceptions that transit media are innovative are not papers, place-based advertising, the Internet, and other new prevalent. media still in development, transit advertising lacks credibility, Perceptions that transit is a downscale medium are not relevance and distinctiveness in today's advertising market place. The research team has concluded that the following issues prevalent. Media planners' experience with transit media is largely are at the core of transit advertising's growth challenge: positive. 1. Transit advertising's positioning--the benefits it is per- The media planners with the most opportunity to recom- ceived by its target audience to offer--is neither highly mend nontop 20 market transit advertising have the least motivating nor differentiated from billboards. favorable view of transit media overall. 2. Transit advertising has serious image and product defi- Overall satisfaction with sales representatives is low. ciencies. Overall satisfaction with sales representatives is lower for 3. The level of product innovation is insufficient to gener- the representatives who sell transit plus other media than ate interest and enthusiasm among media planners and for representatives who sell only transit. advertisers. More than half of media planners are not able to agree that 4. Aside from sales activities, there is no promotion of the advertisers' perceptions of transit media are positive. product to its target audiences. Preferences for new media point to digital. 5. Transit agencies not in top 20 media markets face greater obstacles to growth than those in the top 20. The following sub-sections elaborate on each conclusion 6. Transit advertising sales materials are not as effective as and the findings supporting it. they could be at "making the case." 7. The overall level of satisfaction with transit media sales Conclusion 1: Transit Advertising's representatives is low. Positioning Is Neither Highly Motivating nor Differentiated from Billboards These conclusions are synthesized from many individual findings from the research. A few of the most significant find- The media planner study showed that what is perceived to ings are these: be unique about transit advertising is its ability to reach a

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63 captive audience. This media objective is typically secondary haps add to their brand's reputation as a trend setter. Transit or tertiary, behind such core media objectives as "build brand advertising is quite far away from being able to offer this ben- awareness," "improve brand image" and "trigger a consumer efit. The media planner survey showed that transit media are response." This second tier positioning was echoed by the not widely viewed as innovative, hip or sexy. Bus wraps and finding that transit is viewed by the majority of media plan- station dominations are the right idea--high impact, atten- ners as a supplemental medium, but not a medium that is tion grabbing and show stopping. However, these products typically core to a media plan. do not define the entire medium. In addition, transit is viewed as being very similar to bill- The new product ideas that rose to the top of the media boards in terms of usefulness in a media plan. Both platforms planner survey involved digital technology: digital displays extend reach and frequency, achieve market saturation, and on platforms and in stations, as well on buses and trains. break through clutter. However, billboards consistently score In the interviews with advertising sales contractors, the higher than transit in the ability to achieve these media and research team heard mention of limited exploratory work marketing objectives. Also, media planners' ratings of bill- in the digital realm, and none in the interactive realm. How- boards' ability to deliver highly desirable media features-- ever, the following ideas were mentioned: video screens such as delivering exactly what was bought and targeting spe- installed in rail cars and buses (the third highest rated new cific areas or demographic groups--are also significantly higher product idea behind the two digital options), electrolumi- than transit's ratings. nescent panels that remain illuminated on the side of a bus in the dark, and hanging hand grips for trains and buses that carry ad space. Conclusion 2: Transit Advertising Has The interviews led the research team to perceive issues that Serious Image and Product Deficiencies may be among the key obstacles to new product development The majority of media planners in the study said they are and introduction: transit agency and sales contractor incen- very familiar with transit advertising and have had good expe- tives to pursue new products are misaligned. The issues are riences with transit advertising. However, transit advertising has both organizational and contractual. a credibility problem. Forty-two percent said that "effective"-- Public transit agencies, the owners of transit media, have a the most fundamental requirement for any medium--is not primary business, and it is not advertising. It is therefore not highly descriptive of transit advertising. Sixty-two percent of surprising to hear sales contractors gripe about losing sales respondents said "efficient"--the second most fundamental opportunities because of the transit agency's inability to requirement for a medium--is also not highly descriptive of respond quickly enough. Neither is it surprising to hear sales transit advertising. These are high percentages of media plan- contractors' perceptions that transit agencies sometimes seem ners who are clearly not convinced that transit advertising to lack openness to new product ideas. Because advertising is works or is worth the money. The data confirm this: transit generally less that 5% of operating revenue, yet carries with it also rates quite low on the important feature of being a good high risk of public condemnation, the whole subject is a bit of value for the money. Transit also got low scores on "reliable," a lightening rod for transit agencies. However, if transit agen- "innovative," and "clean." On a positive note, "downscale" cies want to see their revenue from advertising grow, they was not highly associated with transit advertising's image need to embrace it. among media planners. The contractual issues are their own quagmire. There is Aside from these image issues, there are issues with the no shortage of small companies out there who have innova- product itself. Media planners view transit as dirty, not flexi- tive ideas for advertising space in and on public transit. ble and expensive to produce. Also, transit is deficient in However, any transit agency that has contracted a sales being able to deliver audience measurements of any kind. company to sell their advertising space is going to get strong This last feature was shown to be of extremely high impor- push-back from the contractor to not deal with new media tance to media planners as they select media to recommend. companies. From the sales contractor's perspective, any new media company is direct competition, and the first cus- tomers it will call on are those of the sales contractor. The Conclusion 3: The Level of Product research team was informed that attempts to restrict a new Innovation Is Insufficient to Generate media company from poaching the sales contractor's cus- Interest and Enthusiasm among Media tomers rarely work. Planners and Advertisers For this reason, transit agencies often grant their sales con- Very often, advertisers demand media opportunities that tractors the right to be the first company asked to develop a new are new, exciting, fresh and cutting edge. They are looking to technology. The research team has seen transit agencies run into maximize the chance that their ads get noticed, as well as per- difficulties in this scenario, as well. If the new technology is