MTA Advertising Goes Digital

Before I get to this entry, let me apologize for the lack of updates over the last 48 hours. I was extremely busy & couple that with some broadband issues that seem to be squared away. So let me get back to business.

This past Tuesday, Holly M. Sanders of the New York Post wrote an article about the MTA’s plans to use GPS based digital screens to advertise on the sides of buses. The ads would target specific neighborhoods & even individual blocks. Lets take a look at her report:

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.

Click here for the complete article.

The deal that the MTA secured is nice as it not only brings in cash over a set period of time automatically but they can reap even more based on actual ad sales. So what is the problem you ask? Well I question the tactics being used to determine the ads shown. I do not think it is wise to use a electronic way of determine the ethnic makeup of neighborhoods. What do you do in areas with a diverse mix of ethnicities? Do you only showcase ads of the majority which could be seen as potentially racist towards the minority ethnicities? Why even take a chance on something like that occurring?

Lets look at neighborhoods like Harlem & Washington Heights. Historically these neighborhoods are considered to be dominated by African Americans & Latinos. However over the last few years, many more Caucasians have flocked into both neighborhoods. While the majority in both areas continue to be African Americans & Latinos, the number is dropping as time goes by. How will these ads address that while not coming off potentially as racist?

This deal could blow up in their face. For now we will just have to see how it all plays out. I hope it goes well but with the MTA involved, that scenario rarely plays itself out.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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