How Smart Marketers Use Transit Media To Drive Brand Awareness and Increase Sales

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Cover image for  article: How Smart Marketers Use Transit Media To Drive Brand Awareness and Increase Sales

Today, every campaign is put through the ringer in terms of its effectiveness against established KPIs. With this pressure, what marketer wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to leverage a media format that can achieve success across the entirety of the purchase funnel, from brand awareness to purchases? While a silver bullet still may not exist, we continue to see savvy brand and agency executives drawn to mass transit, using its strengths in creative ways. They have found that utilizing buses, trains, transit stations, and street furniture across America’s urban centers engages and informs millions of commuters in powerful ways not achievable by TV, radio, print or digital.

While out of home (OOH) transit campaigns are certainly not a new concept, the advent of digital signage is creatively and innovatively taking brand activations to new heights. As are the effect of advanced capabilities like the QR code, which can provide real-time (at times one-to-one) interactivity and connection.

Transit Campaigns Improve Desired Brand Attributes and Consumer Digital Engagement

  • Cash App, a leading mobile payment service, utilized digital “Liveboards” across nearly 50 New York City subways stations in three boroughs to communicate the specific message - “whole squad was spending cash and splitting bills” via Cash App - to a targeted audience. The brand was successful in driving recognition amongst their key demo, the highly coveted A18-34, and beyond, with 54% of A18-34 remembering the ad (and 50% of all consumers). In addition, there was a significant lift in app usage (47%), plus increased unaided brand awareness was (+4%) and brand favorability (+12%).  Clearly the use of the target demos vernacular paired with bright creative hit the mark. Source: MFour, Feb. 2023
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield ran a transit campaign, strategically choosing Washington, D.C., area buses that over indexed against Federal employee riders during open enrollment season. Those who were exposed to the bus ads were 300X more likely to visit the health insurance company’s website. This resulted in total website visitation rising 2,000% during the six-week campaign. Source: StreetMetrics, Feb. 2023
  • Transit media has long been the direct-to-consumer (DTC) category sweetheart. Its ability to put new brands on the map has been coined by many as "the startup made it moment." New DTC brand, Sheertex, dominated the streets of NYC with its "Alarmingly Strong Tights" campaign. The campaign resulted in a surge of site visits and sales, with website visitation soaring by 96% during the campaign and 16% of all visits culminating at the checkout page. Those exposed to the transit campaign were 117X more likely to complete the checkout process than the control group. Alarmingly strong results indeed! Source: StreetMetrics, Mar. 2023

No one in marketing has experienced a greater comeback than the QR Code. Pandemic necessity finally drove the required consumer behavior for effective marketing campaigns. With this foundation set, brands have started to leverage the technology for truly effective, interactive, and surprising campaigns. In fact, according to Flowcode, 2022 saw a 13,600% increase compared to 2020 in the inclusion of QR codes on street level media -– the majority of which facilitate a desired digital KPI (for example, web visit, app download, or purchase). P.S. Yes you read that right … over a 13,000% increase in only two years.

Transit OOH is no longer a passive channel as QR is empowering consumers to engage with brands, products, and services. In turn, brands are gaining quantifiable analytics to demonstrate OOH’s impact on business outcomes. According to a recent survey, 40% of subway riders have scanned a QR code on an ad appearing on a digital screen to receive incentives, offers, coupons, or other valuable information. Two out of five NYC subway riders have scanned a QR code from an ad and would again, with 10% using QR codes to make a purchase while on-the-go. Source: OUTFRONT NY 5 Borough Audience Survey (based on 426 out of 1000 respondents surveyed), Wave 4, June 2022.

No longer just a Super Bowl commercial stunt, QR codes are interactive to the point where consumers can be given the ability to influence content that appears on transit digital screens. For example, in certain campaigns, consumers can simply scan a QR code and select pre-set creative options to choose their own ad journey while waiting for the train (while brands achieve deeper levels of 1:1 engagement including but not limited to ecommerce activations, increased lead generation and social media awareness)!

QR Codes Drive a New Level of Consumer Interactivity and Fluidity to Digital Bottom of the Funnel Metrics for Connected Transit Ads

  • WoodSpoon, a new meal delivery service, used transit to create brand awareness in an already crowded space. The QR Code generated a 450% increase in website visitation and a 350% increase in app downloads. A representative from WoodSpoon noted it achieved immediate unaided growth of brand awareness from the OOH campaign via their social channels. Source: WoodSpoon, Apr. 2022
  • BeautyBio, a skincare company, used their QR code to facilitate a coupon code. The campaign increased the brand’s New York revenue by 16% and they saw their NY metro new users jump by 11%. Source: BeautyBio, Dec. 2021
  • AMC utilized OUTFRONT’s QRad technology for its latest campaign highlighting "Mayfair Witches" series. QRad allows audiences content control by triggering creative changes directly on Liveboards after scanning the QR code and selecting their own ad journey from the provided options. For AMC, commuters triggered the full trailer of the series on the Liveboards. The campaign saw over 700 scans with 100% video completion across all sessions. Source: OUTFRONT & AMC, Jan. 2023

These are just a few examples of how brand marketers are increasingly understanding the branding and interactivity power of public transportation in urban centers. For brands looking to reach consumers throughout their daily journey, giving your ad campaign a ride on a train or a bus is a great way to drive a wide range of desired KPIs. Plus, you’ll also be supporting the city's transit system (which in NYC and many other cities, is the backbone of social and economic life) and in turn, the commuters who purchase your products. Now that sounds like it’s pretty close to the elusive silver bullet …

Posted at MediaVillage through the Thought Leadership self-publishing platform.

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