When Dead Zones Go Live

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If you live in or have visited to Boston you know that when traveling around the city on your cell phone you’ll inevitably say one of two things….”I’m about to go in a tunnel” or “I’m about to go underground”.  By the year’s end this will no longer be the case for Boston’s subway lines.  AT&T and T Mobile  will provide full cell reception underground across all lines.  Some T  passengers may be a little disappointed with the onset of loud talkers carrying on during their commute, no longer having that “offline” time, and the inability to use that great excuse to get off the phone  (“I’m about to lose you…  going underground ”) But for many passengers this couldn’t have happened sooner.  Aside from the annoyance that this may cause the extended coverage will be great for commuters to stay incommunicado with voice, email and the internet while on the T.

From an advertising perspective I look forward to seeing how this will impact transit advertising that had little room for innovation over the years.  Transit advertising has the advantage of having a captive audience and for many years in Boston the subway audience had little distraction with no reception underground.  With the full reception advertisers may be more challenged to get the attention of the commuter but they also get the ability to access this audience in many ways.  Having access to text and the web will allow advertisers to be more engaging with their customers.  By using QR codes advertisers can invite passengers to get coupons and visit their website.  Advertisers can use social media to engage passengers.  There is a host of opportunities to connect with this audience.  I anticipate that this may take a little while before we start to see some interesting executions but hopefully we (the advertising community) won’t be disappointed.  It’s time for Boston to have a platform where advertisers can truly a splash to engage large audiences and this has the potential to be  just the thing.

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