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Bus ads: do they capture attention and keep it?


Bus ads: do they capture attention and keep it?


House advertising usually pops up when ad spots aren’t fully booked, it reminds marketers that they can get into a certain space for the right fee and make an impact, but most media probably wish they didn’t have to do it.

APN Outdoor’s newest house ad seems a little bold, then, especially if its claims hold true, because they don’t want anyone forgetting the message anytime soon. APN have blanketed some metropolitan busses in blue boasting the claim ‘Moving transit messages are 2X more likely to be remembered.’

The ads come after APN’s Transit Momentum Neuroscience study, which found some other pretty bragworthy stats about moving ads, including:

  • The peak of engagement was 45% higher for moving messages.
  • Earlier engagement opens the doorway to more effective memory encoding resulting in a 33% higher memory peak for a moving message, and
  • Brand saliency was twice as high for a moving message.

The findings came from a comparison of a stationary bus with one in motion. It’s a pity, then, that a lot of city buses barely move in peak hour.

“A moving bus creates higher and earlier levels of engagement which results in higher memory encoding for brand messages,” explains APN Outdoor’s general manager of marketing, Paul McBeth.” As a result, the shift to brand acceptance is stronger in consumers. We are using our own transit medium to impress these findings on the advertising community in the same way brands use transit to effectively expose consumers to their message.”

Researchers used a standard bus portrait panel as the common measurement tool in the Momentum study. A 12 minute travel video was created as a visual stimulus of a typical day in the life of a consumer on the road, incorporating advertisements of 4 brands.  The advertisements were rotated equally on buses, both moving and stationary.  To measure the difference in engagement, 129 participants were fitted with neuro-technology caps, capturing second by second brain activity while viewing the video.

Despite all this glory talk, bus advertising still has its critics. Ramesh Ramakrishnan Iyer, CEO of ReVive Asia answered our callout on Twitter for people who think it's just not all it's cracked up to be.

"In general, bus ads are deemed as attractive and a sort of show off to clients,” Iyer tells Marketing mag. “Media managers and clients get a ego boost when they see a bus ad that they have been involved in, but for many brands and marketing situations, it is a waste. 

Iyer puts a lot of the waste down to poor execution and a lack of demand.

“I have personally seen many ads that are a collage of images and visuals, and it’s impossible that any one could recall what is being said or why?” he says. “In general, outdoor should serve as reminders and triggers and reinforce main stream media ­– but these days with so much fragmentation it seems hard to differentiate. In singapore bus ads are expensive, small businesses can't afford them. Since we all are bombarded with so many messages all the time, even research can't uncover the crucial q – source of media awareness, and that is a telling situation when it comes to measuring effectiveness.

“Often you see repeats of visuals and messages that are used in other media, and those can be good triggers, but many times the call for action is missing , like a website or a phone number to call," Iyer continues. "Many ads end up looking like one another – a pretty babe, a bottle and some benefits. You ask consumers what they think of it, and they don’t know."

Iyer sees the only solution to truly judge if bus ads work well would be to test a campaign that only uses bus ads.

"Researchers must measure some situations where a totally new brand uses buses only," Iyer thinks, "and come up with data that can prove once and for all if the media is working at all. But this sort of thing is seldom see, as it does not serve the media owner and the agency very well.

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