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Ryan Hoy, Marketing Manager at Exterion Media talks about creating an emotional brand connection with bus advertising

With approximately 1,400 buses on the road, running 17 hours a day, 364 days a year, combined with a whopping 66.9 million passenger journeys made every year, buses play an important, if somewhat understated, role in Northern Ireland.  Whether you use the bus or not to get around, they provide an essential service for many, connecting Northern Ireland’s urban centres.  Their presence on our streets is ultimately driven by public demand.  

People therefore have a unique relationship with bus because it forms part of their daily routine, reinforced by the fact that 87% of people believe buses to be an important part of the community. This emotional connection can be incredibly powerful for advertisers wanting to build trust and engagement to a captive audience.

Power NI Bus Passenger PanelsAt one time, advertisers tended to shy away from internal advertising because of the perception of who the bus passenger might be. Today, concern for the environment, investment by Translink in improving bus services as a result of customer feedback, along with the popularity of programs such as Metro Saturdays and value for money offerings like Smartlink travel cards have caused a wide range of business professionals, students, and many other demographics to leave their vehicles behind and travel by bus to work, shop and play in towns and cities across Northern Ireland –reflected by a 750,000 increase in fare paying passenger journeys year on year.

"For those who don’t use the bus regularly, the sheer size and stature of a bus as an advertising platform means you can’t avoid seeing them as you walk down the street and sit behind them in traffic – perfect for creating that all important brand connection with your audience".

Of course, it’s not just people on the bus being exposed to advertising, for those who don’t use the bus regularly, the sheer size and stature of a bus as an advertising platform means you can’t avoid seeing them as you walk down the street and sit behind them in traffic – perfect for creating that all important brand connection with your audience.  In recent years advertisers adopted more reactive, short-term advertising strategies where guaranteed sales were the only priority.  This eventually leads to brand erosion, and consumers are not reminded why they fell in love with the brand in the first place.

Phoenix Natural Gas bus wrap Belfast

The diversity of bus formats, and their associated benefits, gives advertisers an abundance of choice when it comes to creating a connection with their desired target audience. The ability to host powerful visuals such as; Phoenix Natural Gas’s use of fully wrapped buses or the Department of Education with T-Sides, proximity targeting a specific area like Fairhill Shopping Centre with Solus Rears, or creating the ‘wow’ factor with Aer Lingus on Backlit T-Sides, are just some of the recent examples of how advertisers are harnessing the power of bus advertising.

Aer Lingus Backlit T-Side bus adDepartment of Education Bus T-Side

At a time when other media fragments around us and gets to grips with subscription and permission issues, bus advertising is instantly accessible, ‘always on’ and commands attention in ‘dead’ time from hard-to-reach, young, upwardly mobile audiences in urban areas.  Even as the out-of-home market increasingly looks to digital innovations, spare a thought for the bus which continues to deliver countless campaign benefits and a reach and frequency that makes it an undeniable part of the media mix.

For more information on bus advertising with Exterion Media Northern Ireland visit our media section.