According to its website Scarborough Research “measures the lifestyles, shopping patterns, media behaviors, and demographics of American consumers locally, regionally, and nationally. Scarborough consumer insights are used by marketers and media professionals to develop successful programs that maximize return on marketing and sales investments.” When Scarborough researched the buying patterns of the Transit TV commuters it found something that might not be a surprise to publishers; commuters read.
Transit TV has flat screen televisions on its buses in five major cities; Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando and Milwaukee. According to the Transit TV site 46% of its riders are aged 18-34 and 55% are female. But what percentage of commuters are buying books and where are they going to buy them? That’s what Scarborough Research asked. And we’ll look at those stats in a moment.
Other than statistic significance, there are a variety of reasons why the publishing world should take note of this information.
• Demographics- getting your message to major cities
• A repeat audience
• Audience recall of material
Transit TV audience is preconditioned to accept book video as both content and purchase suggestions since they have been watching book trailers since 2008. Circle of Seven Productions signed a contract with Transit TV in March of 2008 to provide book trailers as content. The relationship between the two companies started with a simple email from Sheila English, CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, inviting Transit TV to look at COS videos on YouTube. “I saw the Transit TV logo on the OVAB site and recalled seeing that on ExpandedBooks’ website. I knew there must be interest in book content and COS offers something different than ExpandedBooks so I thought I’d contact Transit TV and see what they thought of our content.” Jeff Hartlieb of Transit TV said, “I saw the significance of the Book Trailer segments and when riders started asking where they could purchase the books, I knew we had hit a home run” Hartlieb goes on to say, “The content is highly visual and well suited to Transit TV’s environment which is one of the major reasons it has done so well on our system”
Once book trailers began to play on Transit TV there was a brief period of adjustment where commuters would see a book trailer and understand what it was. COS book videos are meant to be entertaining, so they aren’t overt advertising. And to lend to the impression of entertainment vs. ad, COS created bumpers, which are pre-roll video that tells commuters they are learning about certain genres of books and an end roll video that encourages people to read anything. “We were contracted to provide content, not ads,” says English. “By creating a pre and post video that encourages the experience of reading, then putting our trailers between those bumpers as examples of what someone might read, we are able to treat our book videos are entertainment, not ads.” The downside of being a content provider instead of an advertiser is that we don’t have the metrics or analytics that advertisers get. We know we will get 10 million impressions for each video, but we don’t get specifics and we don’t get to request particular spots or dates. The videos play within the month we submit them. Because the videos are taken as content and because of the lack of analytics COS doesn’t charge its clients for placement on Transit TV. COS does, however, charge a nominal fee for formatting and processing so it doesn’t absorb incidental costs related to the program.
The Transit TV venue has significant benefits to it. There is a 51% average advertising recall which is an amazing statistic, and one COS has seen in action.
“I was excited when I opened my email to see that I got a fan letter from someone who saw my trailer on the bus!” Says author Thora Gabriel who shared part of the letter. The commuter was so enticed by the trailer he noted the URL of the author and emailed her when he got to a computer. “Being quite a fan of various fantasy books and such, I was intrigued by the "trailer" for the book currently being shown on Los Angeles MTA bus
monitors.” This commuter recalled the book, the author and the URL after getting off the bus. He was inspired enough to take action. That’s what all promotion is suppose to do.
89% have a favorable opinion of Transit TV so the majority of people watching appreciate the content. With so many people on advertisement overload, to find a venue where the audience is happy to watch the material on the screen lends itself to positive outcomes for advertisers.
“I’m getting more and more fan mail from people who saw my trailer on the transit bus!” say author Christine Feehan. Authors are excited about getting this additional exposure and over the fact that it inspires action.
The Scarborough research found interesting facts about Transit TV commuters. They did an index that compares the overall population of the city to those taking the transit system. The way the index works is that it looks at the concentration of a certain type of consumer compared with the overall city.
For example, in Milwaukee, there is a 22% greater concentration of people who purchase books online who are taking the transit system and watching Transit TV. The concentration of readers/commuters purchasing books online in Chicago is 12%. That means that you can find a 12% concentration of book buyers on the bus compared to the metro population index. The down and dirty of these stats tells us that a high concentration of book buyers are riding the transit system.
Where are these book buyers going to purchase their books? Not everyone buys online as the research will show. In Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Chicago Waldenbooks was the preferred bookseller of commuters who watched Transit TV. But, in Atlanta it is B. Dalton that the majority of commuters bought books from. Other places where book buyers went were WalMart, Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books and then online at Amazon.
There is a high concentration of book buyers taking the transit bus system who are spending significant and repeat time on the bus, watching Transit TV. These book buyers are now attuned to book video that plays several times throughout each day, informing them of new books and reminding them of the entertainment of reading.
It’s only a matter of time before one of the booksellers will find a way to utilize this venue and drive foot traffic to their own stores. They will benefit from multiple books being presented to these readers. It will just be a matter of driving that traffic to a central or “preferred” point of sale.
The readers benefit from having this information given to them in an entertaining way, authors benefit from a book promotion venue that is targeted to a high concentration of book buyers and booksellers benefit from repeat messages telling people that reading is a major form of entertainment.