Transit-Mobile Advertising

The Origins and Future of Transit Advertising

Transit Advertising (aka Transit Media, or Transit OOH) is typically categorized as one of the four major forms of out-of-home advertising… it’s essentially any advertising placed in, on, or around transit.

According to this thesis by James Hind, the earliest evidence of Transit Advertising in the US dates back to 1850. Back then New York had horse-drawn streetcars that ran on rails (occasionally pulled by humans when horses were in short supply). Panel signs were fixed to the outside of these streetcars — the first one on record promoting a local Lord & Taylor department store. Advertising facing the captive audience inside the cars followed a few years later.

Interior train wrap – New York

Although some types of Transit Media haven’t changed much since the early days, many new variations have been introduced since. Today, in many cities, it’s possible to have entire vehicles wrapped with advertising. And it certainly doesn’t stop on the outside. For a price, nearly every square-inch of vehicles, stations, and infrastructure can be covered with advertising — creating some very eye-catching and immersive experiences. Additionally, an increasing variety of digital formats are available in stations/shelters as well, both in and outside vehicles.

Here at CommuteStream, we’re a bit obsessed with Transit Advertising. That’s because a few years ago we creating our own form, we call “Transit-Mobile Advertising”. We extend transit advertising beyond the trains, buses and stations, and onto the mobile devices of the riders themselves, by partnering with the transit apps commuters use every day (train trackers, trip planners, ticketing apps, etc.). Our media works great on its own, or as a tightly synchronized mobile component to a transit-focused OOH campaign — helping the right brands stand out to the right riders. Learn more at

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