Digital marketing platform reaches customers on public transit
Imagine hopping on the bus in the morning on your way to work. You might be hungry and thinking about breakfast or maybe reminding yourself to go to the dry cleaners. Just as you pass a McDonald’s, an ad for an egg McMuffin plays over the sound system, and you decide today’s a good time for an early treat. For Dayton-based CommuterAds, this messaging isn’t just coincidence — it’s part of their geotargeting marketing platform that seeks to connect local businesses with public transit riders.
“Our company patented the way to send 15-second audio and visual commercials wirelessly to city buses,” said Russ Gottesman, founder and CEO. “Say a bus approaches a mall anywhere throughout Ohio’s five largest cities — an Air National Guard recruitment ad can play. You can choose different geotagged locations and even have the same message play on all of the buses in the city at the same time.”
Where large-scale change and innovation is sometimes difficult for transportation agencies, CommuterAds hopes to build a two-way relationship with local businesses and local transit. Messages played over the sound systems or on digital text scrolls in cities like Chicago, Columbus and most recently, Washington D.C., are designed to leverage the area’s offerings with consumer interests.
“Our business model is unique because we split revenue with cash-strapped transit agencies and create value for them,” said Gottesman. “Since we’ve started, we’ve split millions of dollars with transportation agencies throughout Ohio. Because we launched in Dayton, which is a hub for innovation, we believe bringing an innovative product to a public space is hugely important. These agencies are amazing operations that transport everyone from college students to single moms on their way to a second job. When we bring new revenue to these systems, we can support them while also providing relevant messages to local customers.”
As location-based marketing (or geotargeting) makes its way into mainstream culture — think Snapchat filters or Facebook ads — CommuterAds was already hard at work applying for patents for their audio and digital text scroll messages with the help of Ohio Third Frontier and The Entrepreneur’s Center.
“I can’t stress enough how important the Third Frontier was for us and continues to be for the Dayton region,” said Gottesman. “Washington D.C. was a big win for us — it’s the 6th largest transit agency in the country, but we owe our success to The Entrepreneur’s Center. It’s such a great resource and has allowed us to create our first company milestones as we expand nationwide.”