Monday, December 2, 2013

Transitway stations get makeover in the form of "station domination"

If you travelled through Hurdman or Lincoln Fields Stations in November, you may have noticed the large Rogers Communications ads covering Transitway shelters and stairs. Pattison Outdoor Advertising, the agency in charge of managing ads on OC Transpo property, says the "station domination" ad campaign will end this week on December 3rd. (There's a photo of Hurdman Station blanketed in Rogers advertisements in the link.) Station domination gives a company exclusive advertising rights to a particular station for a limited time.

A passenger tweeted a photo of a set of stairs that shows the Rogers promotions at Lincoln Fields Station:

Last year, large lobsters were placed on top of bus stop shelters to promote P.E.I tourism. The conventional ads are the posters placed inside and outside buses, and on bus stop shelters. A single ad can wrap the entire exterior of buses. We are used to this on our transit system and wouldn't think twice. Now for the very first time in Ottawa, transit station shelters, walls, and floors can be covered in ads promoting the same message. Station domination is a common advertisement practice in subway and LRT stations across this country, but is generally met with public disapproval.

Some passengers may be annoyed with them, especially the telecom ones, while others may not noticed or simply don't care. When ads start to creep into areas that have remained ad-free, they usually don't go away. Station domination could appear in future Confederation Line stations, which will be far more spacious than the current Transitway stations and consequently, provide more opportunities to advertisers.

However, advertising on transit property is not a significant source of revenue for OC Transpo. Advertising on transit shelters and vehicles generates approximately $3.3 million per year, a relatively small amount compared to the $218.6 million revenue that the the transit agency estimates it will generate in 2014. It's roughly 1.5%. As for revenue from station domination, in 2011, the City projected it would bring $50,000 in revenue during the first year (2011) of implementation. It's nowhere near enough to stop annual fare hikes unfortunately.

Whether you like it or not, station domination is probably here to stay. There is concern about multiple ads of similarity interfering with wayfinding signage and confusing the casual user or tourist. And of course, station domination can turn a beautiful rail station into a marketing jungle. The first set of ads haven't created a public outcry, but it doesn't mean they are accepted either. Like the bus wraps, station domination should be applied sparingly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

revenue for public transit, I'm all for it. As long as there is no interference in design of stations, routes, public services, future services by commercial interests, sell all transit way spaces that do not interfere with safe or efficient use by the public. Eg. not blocking windows of shelters.