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MTA tests digital ad screens on M23

UlmerPark B6

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Courtesy of the New York Post


Click to enlargeLast updated: 11:59 am

October 21, 2008

Posted: 4:08 am

October 21, 2008


The MTA is looking to put high-tech digital screens on the sides of buses so it can target ads to neighborhoods and even individual blocks.


Right now, the MTA is testing the screens on the M23 bus route in Manhattan. If the test is a success, the agency will install the digital displays on some 200 buses beginning in the first quarter of next year, an MTA spokesman said.


Titan Worldwide, which has a 10-year, $800 million-plus contract to sell ads throughout the city's bus and commuter-train systems, said that using GPS technology, it can wirelessly beam ads based on the bus' location and the time of day.


For instance, the screens can show an ad for Saks Fifth Avenue while in Manhattan and change to Target in Brooklyn. The ads can even change languages according to the ethnicity of a neighborhood


"In the morning, we can show Starbucks, and on the way home from work, a Budweiser ad," said Dave Etherington, Titan's global marketing director.


Titan, based in New York, is already rolling out the bus displays in Chicago and is hoping the Big Apple follows suit. The company is racing to upgrade to high-tech signage in New York and other major markets as the fast-growing outdoor-ad business undergoes a digital revolution.


The digital bus screens resemble TV spots more than static billboard ads and are designed to draw glances from people passing on the sidewalk, as opposed to distracting drivers on the road.


One ad shows an Oreo cookie dunked in a glass of milk. Other advertisers in the test include mattress seller Sleepy's, Coca-Cola and Sprite.


The digital displays are part of the MTA's ongoing efforts to boost revenue beyond passenger fares. Advertising, the second-biggest source of revenue for the agency, is expected to hit $125 million this year, up from $106 million in 2007.


The MTA is also ramping up the amount of advertising in the subways, such as wrapping the outside of the cars and projecting ads on the tunnel walls. CBS Outdoor has the contract to handle subway advertising.


The MTA wants to make sure the displays don't interfere with service before going ahead with a wider rollout. It also wants to gauge advertiser interest.


"We need to make sure from an advertising and functional standpoint that it works," said MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin.


Aside from advertising, the signs could also come in handy in case of emergencies. The MTA can take over the displays to issue alerts about road closures or even missing children.



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How is this going to work exactly?


The first thing you need to know is that (MTA) needs money. Second the ad changes as the bus goes through different neighborhoods. Different ethnlic groups; they can cahnge into different languages. I wonder what happens when it rains?

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Well I know they need the money, but how can the ads be changed according to neighborhood? Say a bus goes from a Chinese neighborhood to a Spanish neighborhood. Do they change by themselves or is there a button?

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The article says it's designed to draw the attention of the people on the sidewalk rather than distracting drivers.

Perhaps, it is not as distracting up at close range. Since it's LED, the pixels are large, and it my just be a blur of color at close range such as driving right beside it (they had tested LED's on subway entrances for awhile, but then replaced them with LCD's, because they weren't good at close range). The LED's may also have visors that reduce close range angular visibility.

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