Signs of the Times - July 2013 - (Page 104)

EDITORIALLY SPEAKING 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.” Keeping TABs Transit and EMC billboards get measured. I’ve always envied out-of-homedoesn’t have to explain (OOH) advertising. 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 businesses. 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 / 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
ST Update
Technology Update
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Commercial
Lighting Techniques
The Moving Message
Technology Review
Technology Review
Design Matters
New Products
Vehicle Graphics Contest Entry Form
Public Displays of Affection
Electric-Sign Company 1 on 1’s
Screenprinting for Signmakers
A Century of Going Places
Industry News
Advertising index
Editorially speaking

Signs of the Times - July 2013