Transit TV: A Really Mobile Medium

In-bus programming and advertising have only recently begun to approach critical mass, with transit systems in Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles tapping Transit TV to mount LCD screens in their fleets. Now Transit TV has partnered with mobile messaging provider Vibes Media to offer a location-based text messaging service.

As part of a pilot program that ran in Milwaukee buses last fall, regional grocery chain Sentry Foods prompted riders to send a text message for the chance to win a $500 shopping spree. The quick-hit campaign marked one of Sentry's first attempts to reach a younger demographic by nontraditional means.

"Buses are the right medium for this type of program," says Robert Bridge, Transit TV's marketing director. Bridge says a large number of 18- to 34-year-olds ride buses and might be interested in interacting with ads.

The text-messaging component also allowed Sentry to better track how consumers interacted with its ads. "We know where they entered information and at what time," says David Gale, Vibes senior account manager, stressing that all data is privacy-protected.

While Gale and Bridge say that nearly all preliminary feedback has been positive and that Sentry will likely hit its goal of 50,000 contest entries, they note that many companies remain skeptical of programs that merge the two relatively unfamiliar mediums of in-bus advertising and text-based marketing. "Obviously there's still some work to be done on the education front," Gale notes, hyping the potential return on investment payoff. "What we need to tell people is that for the cost of a single prime-time ad on 'Desperate Housewives,' you can run a national mobile campaign like this for a year."