Steps for Designing Highly Effective Transit Ads

Leverage these proven recommendations to develop high-performing transit ads.

Steps for Designing Highly Effective Transit Ads

At StreetMetrics, having measured over a billion miles of transit media, we've observed certain best practices over the years that have continually delivered strong return on investment for advertisers and operators. We've consolidated these best practices here in this guide to help boost your media performance.

While we encourage our partner operators and advertisers to think outside the box with their creativity, we recommend rooting the campaign in these 10 best practices to drive optimal results. 

#1: Define a clear ad objective

The objective is the north star.

Before creating an ad, it's key to have one specific goal that keeps the creative focused on the task at hand. Whether it's driving website traffic, app downloads, or store visits - a well-defined objective provides direction for your entire ad campaign.

For example,

  • A ride-share app driving ‘new app downloads’
  • An e-commerce clothing store boosting ‘website purchases’
  • A grocery store chain increasing ‘store visits’

#2: Align your messaging to measurable outcomes

A campaign is only as good as its measurement.

To know the impact of your media, it must be quantifiable. To do this, ensure your creative messaging drives your audience to complete your objective, and that the results you're measuring are tied to your objective.

For example,

  • A ride-share app may utilize an app conversion and lift study to understand new app downloads attributed by the campaign
  • An e-commerce clothing store may utilize a website attribution conversion and lift study to understand website purchases attributed to the campaign
  • A grocery store chain may utilize a store visits and lift study to understand the increase in store foot traffic driven by the campaign

#3: Convey the benefits, simply

Make it easy as 123 for your audience.

Cut through the clutter with simplicity. There’s heavy competition for your audience’s attention, so highlight the primary benefit of your product or service to make it easier for your audience to take action.

#4: Optimize legibility with big letters & high contrast

Keep it 10 words or less.

Opt for a big, legible font that stands out from the background. High contrast between the text and background enhances visibility. Vibrant or dark background colors are best.

For example,

  • “Get there faster with [ride-share app]”
  • “The latest fashion at your doorstep with [e-commerce store]”
  • “Shop local ingredients at [grocery store]”

#5: Tap into the locale & season

Tap into the hyper-local nature of transit advertising.

Leverage distinct local and seasonal messaging to better connect with your audience with the environment they’re in.

For example,

  • “Get there in a NY minute by downloading [ride-share app]”
  • “Fall fashion, shipped to your door on [store name].com”
  • “Shop local Brooklyn bites, at [store name]”

#6: Showcase your product with imagery

A picture says a thousand words. 

Utilize high-quality images or graphics to showcase your product or service's benefits. Engaging visuals increase the chance of audience engagement and action.

#7: Make your logo pop

Connect the message to your brand.

Your logo is a symbol of your brand identity. Ensure it stands out so your audience associates the message with your brand. 

#8: Have a clear call-to-action

Tell your audience the action you want them to take with a clear and compelling call-to-action (CTA). 

For example,

  • “Download [ride-share app] to get there faster"
  • “Use code SAVE10 on [store name].com for 10% off”
  • “Visit our new store on Broadway today”

#9: Embrace the creative freedom of transit

Utilize every inch of your creative real-estate.

Play into the motion and unique shape of transit ads to design creative that makes your audience stop and watch as your ad passes by.

#10: Continuously measure and improve

Designing effective creative is an iterative process - keep testing and improving.

Continuously monitor performance. Analyze the results, make adjustments accordingly, and test different elements within the ad copy to improve your campaign over time.

For example,

  • Utilize QR codes to direct your audience to a landing page, allowing you to understand how many people scanned the code in your ad
  • Implement a unique promo code for commuters to track conversions and gauge the campaign's effectiveness
  • Leverage industry measurement and attribution solutions to understand impressions and conversions

In summary

By following this combination of utilizing a clear objective, great creative design, and continuous optimization, your campaign will be set up to drive strong results.


About StreetMetrics

StreetMetrics is a media measurement company serving the out-of-home advertising industry. Our planning, measurement, and attribution solutions give media operators a 360° view of their campaign performance. For more information, visit or follow us on LinkedIn.

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