close up image of red London Bus moving fast

Bubble Outdoor’s 2018 definitive guide to effective bus stop advertising

With billions of individual bus trips made across the UK every year and millions of daily journeys, bus stop advertising is one of the most powerful forms out outdoor advertising out there.

This definitive guide will tell you all you need to know about making the most from your bus stop ads.

Understanding your audience’s mindset

There are two main ways people interact with bus stop ads. The first is people walking down the street, who may not be going to take a bus journey at all, and the second is people who intend to catch a bus.

Immediate impact

The point is that each type of person will be in a different mindset. The passersby can have their attention grabbed by striking visuals, a creative design, or a powerful slogan. If they are interested they may stop by and look at your ad in more detail. This is a great way to get lots of exposure to pedestrian traffic.

bus stop advertising -feel good drinks

Extended “dwell time”

Bus users will get a direct look at your ads as they approach, but they will also spend much more time at the bus stop than the passersby. Advertisers call this “dwell time”; it’s basically the amount of time people spend hanging out near your ad.

The great thing about the extended dwell time that bus stop ads offer is that it gives people an opportunity to study your adverts in more depth and for a longer time. This means you can create ads that reward a closer look.

For example, this bus stop ad for San Francisco Zoo gave audiences the chance to pose as a range of colourful creatures.

bus stop advertising for a San Francisco zoo

Bus stop advertising for local exposure

The amazing thing about bus stops is that they cover the length and breadth of the whole country and are a great way to create localised campaigns.

Let’s say you wanted more customers to visit your restaurant. You could do a recce of your area and work out where the busiest places are. Then just jump on the Bubble Outdoor ad search map and zoom in to find a bus stop in your area.

Create a national bus stop campaign

The UK’s massive bus network means you have pretty much instant access to the whole country.

Whether you have stores or sites in different parts of the country, or you want to target specific counties or regions, you can build a campaign of any size or reach via Bubble Outdoor.

Make use of the bus stop space

Big budget campaigns like Walkers’ Tweet To Eat campaign, which turned a bus stop into a vending machine, or the Ikea campaign which transformed a bus stop into a furnished abode, understand that making a big impact means creating an intimate connection to your audience.

Walkers 'Tweet to Eat' bus stop advertising campaign showing Gary Lineker

This can be done even if you don’t have the huge budgets of those big brands. A little creative thinking can make your bus stop ads ultra effective.

image showing creative bus stop advertising for a zoo

Think deeply about your audience

The more your ad takes into account the person viewing it, the more impact it will have. To do this, imagine who your ideal customer is and how they might interact with your ad. What pain points do they need solving? What lifestyle needs do they want affirming? Then think about how your bus stop ad can deliver that. Eharmony are great at doing this. Their “End of Dating” campaign featured in London Underground trains and at bus stops.

Simple can beat complicated…

It was visually striking, but in a really simple way that is within anyone’s budget. The ad eschewed images in favour of white text on a plain black background. This “less is more” approach grabs attention because it contrasts with other ads that are all-singing-and-dancing to get you to pay attention to them.

Know when to break the rules…

By focussing on text the ad broke the golden rule about only using 7 words in an ad slogan. This goes to show you can break the rules… as long as you understand the affect that breaking them will create.

bus stop advertising for eharmony saying 'we're serious, this is the end of dating'

By using over 60 words in their copy, eHarmony’s ad design was aimed specifically at an audience who have the time to read their ad. Bus stop users are likely to have that sort of time on their hands. But your ad has to be compelling and you still need to use as few words as possible. Ad copywriting is more like poetry than it is like prose!

Brief your designer properly

When creating a bus stop advertising campaign you should fully brief your ad designer on your requirements.

It’s important that they understand the format they are working with. Your bus stop ads should be designed specifically to reach out to people who use busses or are likely to walk past bus stops on the street. This will help create maximum impact in your ad designs.

Do your research

You probably pass bus stop ads nearly every day. Pay attention to the ads that are displayed on them and make notes of your favorites. Take a photo on your phone so you can study it later. Build up a portfolio of affective bus stop ads. If you see one you like, do some internet research into the brand and see if you can find out what insights were behind the campaign. What aspects are relevant to your brand? Which aren’t relevant?

The trick is not to directly steal ideas but to be inspired by them and to let them inform your ads.

Build a bus stop campaign today

Now you know the ins and outs of effective bus stop advertising, it’s time to put your knowledge into action and take advantage of this powerful medium. Start searching on the Bubble Outdoor ad locator map and start building an effective bus stop advertising campaign today.

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