A Blue Line car plastered in advertising 

As public transport gains traction in the Twin Cities, so do advertising opportunities

Interior, platform, and wrapping ads reach almost 289,000 commuters daily, offer ability to 'geo-target' consumers

By Erica Rivera

Metro Transit provides over 81 million rides per year and serves approximately 289,000 commuters in the Twin Cities every day. Given those numbers, it’s no wonder businesses in Minnesota and beyond want to advertise to the broad swath of Metro Transit customers, which include professionals, University of Minnesota students, and sports fans, among others.

Light rail cars and buses are a prime spot for advertisements, and businesses currently raise brand awareness through ads on the interior of the buses and trains, on the platforms, station dominations, and more recently, by wrapping the buses and trains themselves.

“Bus and light rail advertising is a cost-effective and impactful way for small businesses to get their message out in their local community,” says Marcus Bolton, general manager at Titan, Metro Transit’s media partner. “Many local businesses use transit media to raise awareness for a product or service and to drive local store traffic from a specific geographical area.”

Pricing for ad packages varies based on the type of ad and the duration of the campaign, though Bolton says, “There is an ad solution to fit every small-business budget.” Rail packages can go as low as $2,500, while large-format options such as full bus or train wraps run anywhere from $9,500 for the former to $20,000 for the latter.

The companies that see the most benefit from Metro Transit ads are educational institutions, entertainment venues, fast food restaurants, insurance providers, and those in the retail, banking, and financial services industries. Bolton says hundreds of Minnesota-based businesses and organizations currently advertise on Metro Transit. MNsure, Melrose Center, the University of St. Thomas, and Target are just a few of them; local brewery ads are also in abundance as many such watering holes are located within walking distance of the light rail stops.

Part of what makes the ads effective for small and midsize businesses is “the ability to geo-target if they want to reach consumers within a certain distance from the business,” says Bolton. The repeated exposure to consumers is also a plus, as is the “dwell time” that passengers spend on platforms waiting for trains. Just as public transport is increasing in popularity, so, too, is the traction of these “moving billboards.”