Home Subway Advertising Photo of the Day: Ad-covered turnstile arms

Photo of the Day: Ad-covered turnstile arms

by Benjamin Kabak

Photo by Benjamin Kabak

For the past few years, the MTA has decorated its turnstile arms at Herald Square with a variety of advertisements. Other transit agencies across the country had eked out some dollars selling sponsorships on their entry gates, and the authority had hoped to do the same in New York. The early ads never really spread beyond the busy 34th St. station though.

Over the last few days, however, I’ve seen the ads creep southward. Last week, when I arrived at West 4th St., I noticed blue wraps on the southern turnstiles. The ads — supporting New York’s anti-smoking campaign — are on the three turnstile arms on each of the entry gates at the West 3rd St. entrance to the station, and it’s a part of the MTA’s attempts to squeeze dry its advertising potential.

I posted the photo to my Twitter account earlier today, and one reader questioned the wisdom of these ads. Should the MTA be hosting advertisements that will make straphangers slow down to reach the ad info or jot down a phone number as they swipe through at a busy and hectic station? I’ll leave that one up to you, dear reader, to decide.

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Todd April 4, 2011 - 3:24 pm

These are in the Lex/86th stop too. Nothing like the bar that constantly whacks me in the groin to remind me that smoking is bad.

AK April 4, 2011 - 3:56 pm

Identical ads at Whitehall St/South Ferry.

Dan April 5, 2011 - 6:19 am

Or, in the case of my emerging reader 5 year old, the bar informed him about this thing called “smoking” which he now asks me if he can do.

Jason April 4, 2011 - 3:30 pm

Any readers have the info/standards as to how the MTA gets to advertise? My question really is that why some stations have ads everywhere and yet others do not (for example, some stations in the outer boros or uptown have places in the station wall where ads should be, but they are just painted black. Is this lost potential revenue?). Does the MTA get to choose or is it upto the ad agencies?

Farro April 4, 2011 - 7:57 pm

I suspect that advertisers want certain spots more than others and there must be some form of differential pricing, but I’d be surprised that there are stations w/ blank spots for so long..

BrooklynBus April 4, 2011 - 8:53 pm

They should lower the price of the spots that they have difficulty in selling to make them affordable to attract local establishments located right outside the station.

Steve April 4, 2011 - 9:30 pm

I wonder if they could even get enough revenue to cover the cost of selling the ad space, putting up the ad, etc. It’s not like a spot at, say, the 163rd St stop on the C could be all that valuable.

Farro April 4, 2011 - 9:58 pm

You’d probably still get decent traffic at most stations. The only places I can imagine advertising being truly unprofitable would be some stations in far outer areas of the city, eg Broad Channel

Jeff April 4, 2011 - 4:10 pm

On the topic of advertising, can anyone provide additional info on this, regarding video ads in Subway cars: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/l.....BQxPbVHceL

Or is the Post just really late in learning about that TBS World Series Times Square Shuttle campaign from last year?

My blanket reaction to recent expansions in MTA advertising is as follows: Congestion pricing could have provided the necessary funds to continue transit operations without intrusive advertising, but was defeated by politicians representing self-entitled motorists. Thus, all private automobiles registered in an anti-congestion-pricing politician’s district should be outfitted with video screens which display advertising. The offices of said politicians themselves should receive similar treatments.

Benjamin Kabak April 4, 2011 - 4:12 pm

The Post is a few weeks late to the party. I wrote about the in-tunnel and video advertisements back on March 7. My take is right here.

Jeff April 4, 2011 - 4:18 pm

I remember this post about the tunnel advertisements. I was specifically curious about the mention of “video screens in subway cars and stations to display ads” in the Post article.

Benjamin Kabak April 4, 2011 - 4:25 pm

As far as I know, The Post is late on that too. The World Series shuttle had video screens, and I know video projectors have been in use at Times Square and Union Square for a while. Now, the MTA says they are going to make a concerted effort to get more of that type of advertising.

John April 5, 2011 - 1:21 pm

Wouldn’t it be pretty easy for the MTA to sell ad space on those video screens? On the R160s, they just cycle through the same old repetitive information constantly. You would think by now they would be utilizing them for revenue. After all, wasn’t that part of the original plan?

Hank April 4, 2011 - 4:18 pm

Up at 86 & Lex as well

Joseph April 4, 2011 - 4:19 pm

They have these at South Ferry as well. People dont seem to slow down as most don’t even notice them. They are bulkier but I found they don’t hurt as much when you are rushing through the turnstile.

Bolwerk April 4, 2011 - 4:23 pm

They should try selling sports cups. I often get a sack whack from those things when I’m in a hurry and my metrocard doesn’t read.

Kevin April 4, 2011 - 8:21 pm

I saw them at West 4th early last week already. I don’t think it’s of any use on the turnstile because I hardly ever look at the bar. But if the MTA gets money from it, why not?

Scott E April 4, 2011 - 8:48 pm

Never spread beyond 34th St? Last year (or was it the year before?), Atlantic Ave. had them – I think it was when the station was dominated by Museum of Modern Art ads.

Daniel Howard April 4, 2011 - 8:53 pm

The cute thing with turnstiles is you can count the number of “impressions” and therefor communicate value to the advertiser. If you are worried about slowing traffic, you put the ad turnstiles in the tourist areas. Tourists will gawk at yet another thing and be as slow as usual, and locals will ignore the the ads and rush on through. Everybody wins.

JP April 4, 2011 - 9:02 pm

It could be argued that since you have to at least glance at the turnstile bar, you’d see it regardless of paying attention or not.

Higher-visibility advertisements cost more. You don’t look at the ads on the wall when you’re in a rush and in a crowd, either.

It’s fine, and I agree with Joseph about it being softer on impact.

Alex C April 4, 2011 - 10:07 pm

I like them. Nothing wrong with ads so long as they aren’t tacky and/or look good (Swatch train).

petey April 5, 2011 - 11:08 am

“advertisements that will make straphangers slow down to reach the ad info”

people do this?

Subway Pasteups by Jilly Ballistic | Subway Art Blog August 5, 2011 - 8:56 am

[…] of artists placing art on the walls of the trains seems timely as the MTA has begun placing ads wherever they can in an effort to maximize revenue. Chances are they will not last long in the wild, but we salute […]


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