Despite street furniture being a sought-after form of media in many parts of the world, bus shelter advertising has historically been underutilised and undervalued in SA.

Street furniture accounts for a substantial portion of out of home spend in developed and mature media markets.  There are a number of reasons why SA has traditionally underutilised street furniture including a lack of detailed research data. However, more data is starting to become available, including defined audience information such as reach, frequency, and gross rating points.

Understanding the exposure and reach offered by street furniture seems to be an area of confusion, resulting in media planners and strategists often overlooking it – unfortunate, as street furniture has proved to be a great extension to achieve desired reach and frequency in social media and digital campaigns.

There are a number of elements in favour of street furniture advertising, which includes bus shelter advertising. Shelters look good, fit into the city landscape and serve a purpose – for both commuters and advertisers. Local metropolitan councils have recently upgraded bus shelters and have added more shelters to city grids. In terms of visibility, approximately 813m passenger trips are made on buses annually, and this number is set to grow further with the addition of the new BRT systems. From the point of view of geographical location, bus shelters are strategically placed on main arterial routes and are thus also visible to motorists and pedestrians.

Bus shelters allow for flexibility in terms of the size of a campaign; from directional branding on a single commuter shelter advertising a school or a restaurant, to branding that covers every bus shelter in an entire city from north to south and east to west. Shelters’ coverage and scalability enables brands to create strategic presence in areas where other media potentially don’t have access. They’re also really good value for money. Small and multinational brands that have harnessed the power of street furniture have experienced excellent return on investment. With this in mind, street furniture has been adopted and well received in certain regions, such as Cape Town and Tshwane. In these areas, large brands such as Standard Bank and H&M, to mention just a few, have featured broad campaigns.

In the out of home environment, location plays a vital role, and the opportunities for street furniture are endless, limited only by the imagination and the ability of the creative to deliver an effective message.

Street furniture, and bus shelters in particular, are a valuable asset in the marketing mix. They provide a great platform for clever creative execution, frequency, reach and geographical targeting. And in terms of getting a brand message to the target audience, the medium really hits home.

The big take-out: Bus shelter advertising is underutilised in SA, but offers a range of benefits to advertisers.


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