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Ever wondered what it costs to advertise on the TTC?

Posted by Derek Flack / October 25, 2010

TTC AdvertisingI can't even count the number of times I've casually wondered how much it costs to advertise on the TTC. The occasion for such curiosity is almost always a bored ride on the subway or bus in which I stare blankly at the various posters and try to calculate what kind of money they must bring in. Perhaps this is why, to this point, I had never followed up on the matter. Thinking about it was a time waster and little more.

When I had the opportunity to write a piece on a photography show that used the interior ad space of a streetcar during this year's CONTACT festival, however, my interest was once again piqued. Jordon Bower, the artist behind the exhibit, paid roughly $1000 for an ad-domination of one vehicle over the month-long festival. That was cheaper than I would have expected. But having little reason to advertise on the TTC, I logged this info in the interesting-but-not-important category.

TTC ad ratesIt was only when I started reading about the MTA's efforts to increase ad revenue that I thought I'd inquire as to the TTC's rates. This isn't, of course, terribly difficult information to get one's hands on. But I suspect that it'll still be of interest to those who've entertained a similar curiosity to my own. The rates are pretty self-explanatory, so I won't bother with descriptions and captions, but it's important to remember that the total cost to the client is made up of both the rental of the space and the production costs of the ads themselves.

So what do you think? Are the prices too high, too low, or just right?

TTC ad ratesTTC Ad ratesTTC advertising ratesLead photo by sjgardiner in the blogTO Flickr pool.



TheRealJohnson / October 25, 2010 at 10:25 am
Not drinking Bud Light Lime: Priceless.
KL / October 25, 2010 at 10:33 am
Decrease advertising cost by 1/3. Increase ad space by 1/3. Cha-ching. Vote for me, I just made the TTC money!
wtf / October 25, 2010 at 10:39 am
"Are the prices too high, too low, or just right?"

Yeah, come to think of it, the 4 week cost of 119 70" panels (full TTC area) seems a tad high.

How the hell would someone who doesn't work in media have even a remote clue about the prices of TTC media?
Dolomite / October 25, 2010 at 10:47 am
I'm unclear with what '4-week media cost' and 'production estimate' mean? If I wanted to put up a Poster (10' X 20'), does it mean I have to pay $3,175. $3000 to put up the ad for 4-weeks and then $175 for production the ad (labour cost)? Or do I just pay $3000 in total.
garth / October 25, 2010 at 10:52 am
dolomite, the 3k is just the media buy. production refers to how much it would cost to be printed / installed (just an estimate of course)
S / October 25, 2010 at 10:57 am
At those advertising prices, we should all be riding FREE on the TTC!
Angus Gastle / October 25, 2010 at 10:59 am
Maybe an example might help everyone put some context around all those prices. If you were to buy a "Domination" of Union station (which is when you buy everything, floors, walls, poles, stairs, poster space etc), the total cost would come to around $60,000 for the month.
steve / October 25, 2010 at 10:59 am
Hey..where's the final election day coverage? It's don't vote for Rob Ford Day in Toronto!
Advertising..Bus shelters...exactly..who cares? Those rates are ridiculous..and pointless..advertise on facebook if you really want to waste as little money as possible. Traditional advertising does not work!
Rob Ford can't answer the simplest of questions about his financial plan. Get out there and vote against stupid or old people in the burbs will determine our city's future.
Angus Gastle / October 25, 2010 at 11:03 am
Maybe an example might help everyone put some context around all those prices. If you were to buy a "Domination" of Union station (which is when you buy everything, floors, walls, poles, stairs, poster space etc), the total cost would come to around $60,000 for the month.
mark replying to a comment from steve / October 25, 2010 at 11:06 am
You'll be calling him Mayor Ford come tomorrow morning!
scooby / October 25, 2010 at 11:09 am
steve / OCTOBER 25, 2010 AT 10:59 AM

Traditional advertising does not work!

Uh, no.

People have been wetting their pants shrieking that the 30 second spot is dead for years now.
They ain't dead.
People have been shrieking that newspapers are dead.
They ain't dead.
People have been shrieking that traditional radio stations are dead.
They ain't dead.

Sure there are new media opportunities like the smoke and mirrors of social media, but the traditional media are alive and kicking. They're just getting a nip and tuck.
gristle / October 25, 2010 at 11:24 am
Those bus stop bible people must be raking in a hell of a lot of money then.
Jerrold / October 25, 2010 at 11:44 am
They should up their rates!
Rates / October 25, 2010 at 12:02 pm
Note that very few people pay the full retail price for advertising. That price is the "sucker price". No one has ever paid it. Discounts range from 30-80% off the retail price of the rate card, depending on how good a media buyer you are - if you're a big, consistent advertiser you can get massive discounts off of the published rate. Even if you're only going to place one ad, ever, you should still ask for a discount off the rate card and you'll probably get it.
Shawn / October 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm
Wow, I didn't think it was that cheap to advertise on the TTC. I thought it cost far more than that.
S / October 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm
"Are the prices too high, too low, or just right?"
This is an invalid question.
Nobody can answer that unless you have metrics on subway advertising. It isn't just an arbitrary "oh that sounds expensive".

Saying that Facebook/online advertising can defeat traditional media is somewhat of a joke. There's no doubt online media has become more and more important (and will continue to do so) but the touch points of any consumer's day includes much more than sitting in front of a computer.
gr1 replying to a comment from Rates / October 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm
Daryl Fritz / October 25, 2010 at 03:32 pm
How does the TTC relate to Mississauga & Brampton? Is it the same advertising sales dept?
Seshan / October 25, 2010 at 04:54 pm
How does a 10x20 foot poster cost only $25 more then a 4x6 foot to make?

Also, these prices are pennys for the companies that would be advertising on most of them
media replying to a comment from Rates / October 25, 2010 at 05:52 pm
yes this is correct. I used to work in the media business. volume discounts can represent as much as 80% off published rates. also you only pay for production if you want the company (CBS?) to produce the ad for you. if you're smart you can request their production specs and getter a better (and cheaper) production house to do that for you.
pictureframe / October 25, 2010 at 07:53 pm
Call me a Capitalist, but I don't see why everyone needs to know this.
Marty / October 25, 2010 at 11:19 pm
As the saying goes, "I know half of my ad spending is wasted... I just don't know which half"
mark replying to a comment from steve / October 26, 2010 at 08:46 am
Told you man! Time for you to move to Brampton!! haha
Jeremy Wilson / October 26, 2010 at 11:56 am
Doesn't the TTC only get a fraction of this money? CBS Media or one of the others has a contract to handle all advertising on the TTC, and the TTC gets some stupid small amount, like $1M/year from it.
steve replying to a comment from mark / October 26, 2010 at 06:42 pm
Brampton?! about Calgary or Vancouver..or wait I think I'll stay downtown. Rob never goes there anyway. There's not enough buffets, McDonalds or Tim Hortons down here.
Mark Dowling / October 27, 2010 at 05:31 pm
Those prices look like what CBS gets. We don't know what TTC gets from CBS's income, just what the total is - 92 million over seven years.
irina / October 28, 2010 at 03:28 am
how about jacking up the prices for ads and then decreasing TTC fare/tokens/passes?
W. K. Lis / November 27, 2010 at 03:14 pm
Before you think that the ad revenue is a goldmine, remember to subtract the day's pay for the driver and support staff per bus, as well as a full tank (≈473 L regular | ≈378 L for hybrid) of diesel fuel each and every day.
Rolf / November 27, 2010 at 03:52 pm
I hate those stupid "wrap" ads on TTC streetcars and buses, especially when they cover the windows. Looking outside from in a wrapped vehicle, through the sea of printing dots, always makes me queasy.
David / January 3, 2011 at 06:48 pm
Happy New Year for everyone!!!
Hey guys anyone of you knows the ad rates on 24h newspaper or metro newspaper?
I think still better than TTC since most of people take the newspaper in the morning going to work and others just check it on the internet website.
What do you think?
Kristin / January 26, 2011 at 05:05 pm
Ive always wondered what do they do with the old posters after the ad term?
Kristin / January 26, 2011 at 05:06 pm
I've always wondered, what happens to the posters once the ad term is finished?
javier / August 24, 2012 at 10:47 am
big money..the little guy can't afford this. I have a small business and someone put me onto great exposure for my company and didn't need to give up my first born.
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