As the cash-starved MTA looks to milk dollars out of its existing physical plant, the authority may soon begin running moving ads inside its subway tunnels, WNYC’s Jim O’Grady reported this morning. The authority, says O’Grady, has been receiving bids from companies looking to run these ads and believes these ads will help boost its ad revenue. “Anywhere there’s a dark tunnel, you could do it,” authority spokesman Aaron Donovan said said.
O’Grady has more on the latest push to find non-tax sources for dollars:
The tunnel ads would show a string of varied images that, when viewed from a passing train, would move like a flip book. A similar effect is visible in a subway artwork called Masstransiscope between the Manhattan Bridge and the DeKalb Avenue station in Brooklyn. As the D train glides by an unused station at Myrtle Avenue, painted images flash behind vertical slits and appear to be animated.
Donovan said most ideas for non-traditional ad placement come from advertisers themselves. In recent years, the MTA has permitted video on the outside of buses and ads that wrap entire train cars, like the 6 train that became a long rolling ad for Target last fall, when the company opened a store on 116th Street in Harlem.
Then there is a program called “station domination,” in which a single company plasters ads on multiple surfaces — columns, stairwells, turnstiles — throughout a subway station. Ads at Union Square Station have even been projected onto floors and walls. And now the MTA website displays ads for free credit checks and the Crate & Barrel wedding registry.
Over the past few years, the MTA has seen a marked increase in advertising revenue. Despite a recession that has hit the advertising industry particularly hard, the authority drew in $109 million annually in 2009 and 2010 and has seen that total annual take increase from $27 million just 20 years ago. The authority is hoping to realize $120 million in sales this year.
These days, ads are everywhere underground. From branded stations to fully wrapped train cars, we see commercial space throughout the system, and the in-tunnel ads will be just another source of revenue upon which transit agencies throughout the world have long relied. For a few dollars more, I’ll take it.