Trending Towards Transit
Intersection’s Michael Rosen explains why Transit is Poised for Growth
by Will Farmer
Media and Communications Manager, OOH Today
Alongside the opening of bars, restaurants, and offices is the steady rise of traffic. Airports, subways, and city streets are preparing for a return to normalcy. Alongside them are the advertisers lining the stations, airports, and streets. A large part of this movement is Intersection, a company dedicated to improving the out of home experience for a multitude of cities. We spoke to Michael Rosen, Intersection’s CRO. He told us about how consumers are noticing OOH more than ever, and about how his company is working to improve metrics for transit advertising.
Here’s what he had to say:
Discussion with Michael Rosen
CRO of Intersection
Will Farmer: How does transit advertising compare to traditional OOH mediums? What benefits come with transit?
Michael Rosen: Since Intersection represents transit, street and airport media – from our perspective it’s really about having a diverse offering that reaches target audiences and drives outcomes that are important to marketers. That could include a myriad of different out-of-home assets, whether transit or others.
But when I think about where we are now, at the beginning of June, transit is really starting to hit its stride again. As consumers go back into cities and go back to their offices, the stations, platforms, the interiors are going to provide brands with a compelling opportunity to connect with consumers who are on a new journey. People just have more awareness and appreciation for the world around them.
WF: I know you touched on this a little in your last answer, but how is transit advertising preparing for a post-COVID climate? What kind of ‘new normal’ should advertisers prepare for, or will it look a lot like it did pre-COVID?
MR: I think the ‘new normal’ is based on consumer behavior and consumer adoption. I’m sure you’re familiar with the Harris Poll data that OAAA has commissioned. I think the most recent wave, which came out last week, talked about how Americans are continuing to notice out-of-home more than pre-COVID. That’s an absolute result of the pandemic. Specifically, a lot of urbanites are taking notice of out-of-home more than ever. When you combine that with ‘digital fatigue’, where 63% of Americans continue to experience device burnout, that is where I OOH will reclaim its rightful place atop of the media mix. You have to follow the consumer mindset and they’re taking notice. Marketers are smart to think about reaching out to those consumers now, as transit specifically starts to pick up and ridership starts to increase.
WF: How has the recent growth of transit advertising correlated with the increase in ridership?
MR: We’re looking at three phases of growth from a ridership perspective. There’s the Summer reopening, between June and mid-August, where there’s this gradual ridership growth, cities are coming to life, offices are starting to reopen, bars and restaurants are at 100% capacity, domestic tourism is booming, and outdoor live events are happening. Starting in late August, early September, we expect there will be a massive step function growth as schools reopen, offices start mandating attendance, and so we expect there’s going to be a significant jump in ridership. Then there’s the full return, which is October to December, where we are going to see things continue to ramp up, and that ‘new normal’ sets in at a baseline.
Marketers are ahead of the game. They’re thinking about locking in prime inventory, making sure they are reaching these consumers, especially given the Harris Poll data. Even in our own sales activity, it’s remarkable. Over the last four weeks alone we’ve seen a 97% increase in requests for transit media specifically. That is significantly larger than the previous couple weeks. We’re seeing both local brands and national brands start to lock in media, as well as brands who never left transit. They know that while ridership isn’t at 100% pre-COVID levels, there are millions of people still in stations and in train cars. Also, on the bus side of things, most transit authorities didn’t ratchet down their schedules during COVID, so there was very little decrease there. And the exterior bus is always a powerful medium to reach people in neighborhoods as they are walking or driving. Additionally, advertisers are really fueled by knowing that out-of-home can drive audiences and outcomes in the same way that digital media can.
WF: What are the current measurements of effectiveness in transit advertising? Is there anything lacking in these measurements? What could be improved?
MR: I know how important measurement and efficacy are for all channels. I think what Intersection is doing really well is thinking about the outcomes. Whether it’s driving to a brand KPI, driving to a physical location, driving to a digital event, which is something really important to marketers, it allows us to compete with digital and video dollars. Whether an advertiser is trying to drive app downloads, basket size, purchase, or website visitation, OOH media can certainly do that.
During COVID we launched a solution for bus measurement. Typically, moving bus media has been difficult to measure. We partnered with StreetMetrics on a first of its kind program to deliver post campaign metrics based on routes taken by buses. So we can now measure digital events in moving media. We launched that in Chicago and Seattle, and are expanding it to San Francisco and Philadelphia.
WF: What spaces should advertisers be most excited about going into the post-COVID era?
MR: I’m excited about everything. But first of all, I would say it’s really important for marketers to be thinking about the power of reaching people when they’re out and about post-COVID. That to me is more powerful than social or OTT or other platforms, which are effective, but lack the connection to the celebrations, events and activities happening outside of our homes. For instance, Miller Light is launching a campaign this week in Chicago where they’re wrapping exterior and interior cars as a PRIDE train, or Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which is doing a station domination in Fullerton Station promoting their new hard seltzer, or in Dallas and Austin where Nike is opening two new stores and they’re promoting that with bus media.
I’m excited about the creativity that can happen in the station and extending into other parts of above ground and below ground with additional support and media. And I’m really excited about video. I’m the co-chair of the video committee for the OAAA and last week we launched a buyers guide to promote why marketers should consider moving video dollars to out of home. There’s huge growth there and it’s an opportunity literally right in front of peoples’ eyes.
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