Signs of the Times - July 2013 - (Page 104)
By Wade Swormstedt
“I dream the on-premise sign industry can use
this data to empirically say vehicle wraps and
EMCs have specific documented values.”
Transit and EMC billboards get measured.
I’ve always envied out-of-homedoesn’t have to explain
Primarily because of its name. It
what it is. Yet the on-premise sign industry incessantly
needs to prove that its products are not merely identification, but actual advertising, the branding for specific
This past month, the non-profit Traffic Audit Bureau
(TAB) made two huge announcements. In June, it will
began to report “ratings” for myriad forms of transit
advertising (bus and rail interiors and exteriors, as well
as stations), so that their audiences can be compared
with competing media (radio, TV, etc.).
Also this month, TAB will begin a research program
for measuring the ads on 4,000 electronic billboards.
The end result will be audience ratings and impressions
for each ad unit.
I dream the on-premise sign industry can use this
data to empirically say vehicle wraps and EMCs have
specific documented values.
Two press releases and an hour with Joe Philport,
TAB’s president and CEO, explained all of this. Interestingly, Joe said the impetus for these projects came
from the buyers (advertisers) and ad agencies themselves. TAB’s board of directors, by law, includes more
advertisers than outdoor-advertising companies.
Two OOH companies, (CBS Outdoor and Titan)
provided initial funding for pilot work. Subsequently,
more than 10 additional transit sales organizations have
signed on, that, together with CBS Outdoor and Titan,
collectively represent more than 110 U. S. transit systems.
This two-year effort will produce results for 11
major markets (Designated Market Areas, DMAs):
Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Las Vegas,
Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco,
Portland, OR and Washington, DC. (DMAs coincide
directly with TV’s Nielsen ratings, Joe told me.)
TAB also provides OOH ratings using smaller-market
definitions referred to as Core Business Statistical Areas
(CBSAs). By the end of 2013, Joe said TAB hopes to
have data for the top 50 DMAs, and for the bulk of the
U.S. in a few years.
Only TAB members will have access to the data, but
it will entail three kinds of advertising: the interior and
exterior of public-transportation vehicles (bus and rail) and
inside stations. Additionally, it will acquire and synthesize
data from three primary sources: ridership tabulations,
route information and demographics. The variables are
formidable, but existing resources, such as the National
Household Travel Survey, the American Community Survey and local census demographics, will assist. Data will
104 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / JULY 2013 / www.signweb.com
document specific stations, buses/trains and routes.
Joe said a research company called Peoplecount
would also assist in the data collection. Transit-ridership
data will include such variables as the average amount
of time people wait at bus stops, train stations, etc.
Additionally, audiences will be reported for more
than two dozen types of transit ads. The size of a complete bus wrap would obviously attract more attention
than a sign on the back of a bus. Other factors consider
that ads inside buses would have tremendous frequency,
but a smaller viewership, whereas exterior ads would
experience the exact opposite.
In 2010, TAB upgraded its venerable method of
traffic counts with supplementary data from its EYES
ON program that measures people who actually view
the ads, not just happen to travel past them. A component of such eye-tracking will be part of the transit
research as well.
Joe described the initial results, which will be available
in August, as “soft,” meaning they could change by the
end of the year. In January, users of the information
would be more comfortable in understanding the results.
And then there’s the research for studying electronic
billboards. This will be much simpler because of their
finite number, plus significantly fewer variables. Field
work began in June. Factors will include the speed of
traffic (including the variables of congestion, i. e., rush
hour), the dwell time for each ad, and the number of
ads in a loop. The data will measure each ad, although
it won’t specifically evaluate the quality of the messages.
Each billboard’s location, relative to the road, is among
the data that will be considered when calculating the
amount of time the message has a chance to be seen
by a person inside a vehicle. All told, the measurement
area encompasses approximately 250,000 miles. Some
data will come from a traffic-measurement company
called INRIX. Another resource will be a research
company called Perception Research Services.
So what does any of this have to do with on-premise
signs? Well, initially and directly, nothing. But I have to
think that if OOH can document the value of vehicle
graphics, and EMCs that happen to be on billboards,
the on-premise community should be able to translate
it into credible, tangible, empirical data as well.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - July 2013
Signs of the Times - July 2013
The Moving Message
Vehicle Graphics Contest Entry Form
Public Displays of Affection
Electric-Sign Company 1 on 1’s
Screenprinting for Signmakers
A Century of Going Places
Signs of the Times - July 2013