Brands on the run

This is an article by Nicola de Liso.
You could write for Behind the Spin too. Find out how here.

Media fragmentation? Elusive audiences? Nicola de Liso has studied how advertisers are taking their messages to streets of London in an attempt to reach consumers.

Transit advertising is one the fastest-growing phenomena in the outdoor media industry. Brands such as Police, Smint cool mints, T-mobile and The Guardian have placed advertising on buses, trains and taxis at the heart of their communications strategy.

de liso 3 Today, transit media represents more than one-third of all outdoor expenditure in the UK. Transit media is normally categorised under the umbrella of outdoor advertising. Sales of advertising in public transit facilities and vehicles is a nearly $1 billion industry generating approximately $500 million annually to transit agencies.

In 2007, the top 5 brands in UK that used transit media were: Unilever UK, Vodafone, Orange, British Sky Broadcasting and O2. In 2007, advertising on transit media increased by 35% to £82m, more than one-third of all outdoor expenditure.

Within the whole, it is possible to distinguish several types of transit media such as trucks, cabs, buses, trains and planes. Transit media become a compelling option for companies planning media selection due to its combination of high frequency, exposure, geographic selectivity and low cost. Transit advertising allows advertisers to get a high exposure in front of a vast audience even at critical times as at rush hours. Due to the fact that the media itself is moving – by definition – this type of communication targets different groups of consumers depending on the route it follows

de liso 4 Using data collected from May to September 2007, from a sample of 30 people living in two different London areas – peripheral and central – this exploratory study (which formed part of a Masters level dissertation at London Metropolitan University) tries to answer the question whether it is effective for companies to exploit transit media such as buses and cabs to support their campaigns.

The findings confirmed that transit media showed a high level of recognition and recall, which were two measures used to evaluate the media effectiveness. Moreover, the study attempted to define the relationship between the level of consumers’ involvement and attitudes towards transit media and the level of recall and recognition of the advertisements placed on them.

Findings showed that consumers are quite involved with buses and cabs as advertising media and their level of recall and recognition is influenced by judging the media as simple artefacts. Furthermore, by examining consumers’ attitudes towards buses and cabs as advertising media and the level of recall and recognition of adverts placed on them, it was clear that the more positive attitudes consumers have towards the media, the higher is the level of recall and recognition.

Another measure used to test the effectiveness of buses and cabs was the consumers’ level of exposure to that type of media. It was evident that the level of exposure to transit media is high (29 million consumers per day), but people who live in areas that are more peripheral are less exposed to bus and cab advertisements.

Finally, the research also analysed the influence that some factors could have on the level of consumers’ attention towards adverts placed on both transit media. Findings showed that:

  • Consumers are attracted by vivid and warm colours, rather then dull and cool ones;
  • Consumers pay attention to different bus and cab advertising formats. The catchiest is the “all-wrapped” format;
  • Advertisement meaningfulness and advertisement attractiveness are another two significant factors that impact on consumers’ attention.

In light of such results, all communicators should be aware of the effectiveness of buses and cabs as transit media in order to:

  • Define new dynamics for primary and secondary media selection;
  • Identify more effective ways to advertise on buses and cabs by exploiting the favourable consumers’ attitudes and involvement;
  • Focus more accurately on advertisement features (colours, information, and graphic);
  • Take into account that companies that use a geographical segmentation and those that introduce new products in the market can especially exploit them due to their high frequency.

Photo credit: Nicola de Liso


  1. It was very interesting to read your article about how advertisement massages are delivered to consumers. More interesting for us, a small group of Westminster International University in Tashkent, because we just happen to be doing a research on the effectiveness of ‘Media Trans’, an innovative method of advertisement in transport vehicles.
    We have obtained much primary data through interviews and surveys (and personal observations). However, as to the secondary data, we are rather doubtful whether we will have access to existing data.
    We appreciate, therefore, if you could share with us your findings. We could make ‘compare&contrast’ analysis with Tashkent and London and would be much obliged to send you our findings.
    hopefully awaiting your answer,

  2. Naidu Mary says:

    I am currently conducting a research on the effectiveness of transit outdoor advertising in Kuala Lumpur. And I would like to request of you to share your research paper herein discussed and I will send you mine, once I have completed mine sometime in late Nov 2011

  3. Nakul Kaura says:

    I am currently conducting a research on the effectiveness of transit outdoor advertising in Pune, India. And I would like to request you both to please share your research paper herein discussed and I will send you mine, once I have completed mine sometime inJune 2012.

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