The founders of Commuter Advertising
– wife Katie Hill and husband Russell Gottesman -- came up with the idea for their company while going home from a White Sox game on the “L” train in Chicago.
“We were approaching the stop for Chinatown and thought it would be a good idea to have a 10- or 20-second audio message there to get people into the restaurants,” recalls Hill.
Hill was with an ad agency and Gottesman worked at a company that sells traffic reports to radio stations. “He was familiar with short, quick audio segments, and I was in advertising, so coming up with the concept was a blend of both our backgrounds,” she notes.
Commuter Advertising produces audio announcements over bus and train sound systems. The announcements advertise products, services and sales of companies located near the bus or train stops. That means advertising messages can be timed to match the location of advertisers, and special promotions can be tailored to passengers.
Hill and Gottesman landed their first contract in 2008 with the Greater Dayton RTA. “They had a request for proposals out at the time,” Hill says. “It was for traditional print advertising, but they were open to other ideas.”
The couple moved from Chicago to Dayton and have several patents for their concept. They’ve expanded their market share to reach 100 million riders per year in Toledo, Ohio; Chicago and Champaign, Illinois; Seattle, Washington; Kansas City, Missouri; Rockland County, New York; and Jacksonville, Florida.
According to Hill, the ads cost $250 to $300 per location per month. “That’s typically about 4,000 plays a month of 10- to 20-second audio messages and a scrolling ticker at the front of the vehicle,” she says. “We professionally produce all the ads, and they can contain music, special effects, a variety of voices and languages.”
Very importantly, the transit authorities share in the profits and receive much-needed revenue. “Passengers benefit because this helps keep the cost of fares stable,” Hill notes.
Commuter Advertising has received financial assistance from the Ohio Third Frontier. They’ve expanded from a staff of two to 22 and plan to hire more employees by the end of the year.
Source: Katie Hill, Commuter Advertising
Writer: Lynne Meyer