Taxi advertisers are ‘owning the road’

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It’s time to stop begrudging the taxi driver and seeing taxis for their worth and their valuable contribution to the country and to the economy, not to mention the advertising industry.

Minibus taxis are an immutable part of the South African landscape, like sunshine and traffic jams. Every day, a whopping 18 million people commute using taxis –  and contribute to an industry valued at R16,5bn. The ubiquitous taxi (and there are 150 000 of them on the roads) is sometimes seen as a nuisance, but their very ever-presence works in their favour – they are ready-made ‘mobile billboards’, on the road for 12 hours a day, making them ideal platforms for getting an advertiser’s message across to a large target market.

The minibus taxi industry carries 65% of South Africa’s public transport passengers to and from over 120 formal taxi ranks nationally. And most importantly for advertisers, a full 75% of the adult population is exposed to taxi branding. It comes as no surprise that the effectiveness of taxi branding is highly valued.

For advertisers who have not yet hopped on board, let’s consider what a taxi can do for your brand. Highly visible as it zips around areas in which economically active consumers walk and drive, taxis do all the hard work for you – any large-format, high-impact advertising is quite simply unmissable. A study conducted by Therese Roux of Tshwane University of Technology, shows that 71% of commuters noticed advertisements on passing taxis, while 69% read the advertisement copy. This proves that exterior wraps alone (at eye level and above-street level) are well worth the investment – 100 taxis can generate as many as 20 million impacts in a month and brand recall is high. Little wonder that these advertisers are said to ‘own the road’.

While your brand generates awareness all day long, it also benefits from repetition or frequency (a vital factor in successful advertising campaigns), since taxis usually follow standard routes in specific areas across income brackets and across vast urban areas, as well as peri-urban and rural areas. From Soweto to Sandton and from Cape Town City Bowl to Kayelitsha, your brand can reach both current and potential customers within a range of shopping districts – a huge advantage since research shows that purchasing decisions are often made by consumers ‘on the move’ in high-density out-of-home environments.

Still not convinced? Almost 85% of taxi commuters are household purchase decision-makers and are the consumers most likely to engage with advertising messaging, whether commuting or waiting for taxis. Roux’s research indicates that 75% of commuters feel positive towards advertising, with 60% viewing it as a valuable source of information when deciding which products to buy. Up to 30% of commuters believe that branded taxis are “cleaner” and 23% believe they are “more comfortable” – another sign that branding has positive associations for commuters.

Taxis may be popularly associated with reckless driving, yet Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters revealed that 47.9% of crashes in 2016 were caused by small motor vehicles, followed by light vehicles (22%) and then taxis (a mere 10.1%) – another boost for an often-maligned industry.

To make the industry safer, Transit Ads™ has introduced a programme to reward one taxi driver every month for good driving. What does this do for the advertising Rand? It ensures your brand is protected and associated with drivers incentivised to be polite on the road. Furthermore, we don’t simply applicate the branding and then leave it at that. To ensure that the branding continues to look good, we monitor the taxis closely. We have a dedicated team on the ground at taxi ranks to ensure that client branding looks immaculate, always. We are also in constant communication with taxi associations to foster and maintain positive relationships.

While taxi advertising in isolation may well spell return on investment, there’s evidence to suggest that it reinforces messages as part of larger campaigns, which is likely to pay greater dividends – it works well supporting an established brand or conveying brand developments, for example. As an affordable medium that overcomes barriers and talks to a wide variety of targeted audiences, it can generate maximum impact for your brand – successful campaigns like those of Grandpa, Golden Cloud and McDonald’s prove that it’s never been easier to take brand messaging to South Africans of all walks of life.