How to Advertise in the London Underground
Photo by Markos Tsoukalas
Originally Posted On: How to Advertise in the London Underground | Empire Group (theempire.com)
The London Underground, also known as the Tube, is one of the most convenient ways to travel to, from, and around central London.
With 150,000 commuters entering the Tube network each hour, the advertising potential is remarkable for any type of brand. Advertising on the UK’s underground network is very popular amongst businesses to push their services, products, or companies and it’s not limited to companies based within the UK.
Many international companies use space on the London Underground to broadcast their messages. The Tube network spans 420 km (250 miles) and services about 270 stations including parts of the adjacent counties of Buckinghamshire, Essex and Hertfordshire in the UK.
In order to successfully advertise within the London Underground, there are various aspects to consider, such as:
- The variety of advertising types available within the London Underground.
- The benefits of advertising within the London Underground.
- The costs of advertising on the United Kingdom underground network.
In this guide, we will be exploring these aspects and unpacking them to bring you insight and guidance into how to advertise in the London Underground.
What exactly is London Underground Advertising?
Advertising in the London underground usually involves outdoor advertising, also known as out-of-home advertising, through the infrastructure of the London underground system to promote services, brands and products.
With ample passengers making use of this transport system daily, it presents brands with a singular and incredibly profitable opportunity to realize instant access to their target audience and connect with them on a relatable level.
As the capital of the United Kingdom, London not only has many residents but also a large number of travelers visiting for leisure and business and these diverse groups make frequent passenger journeys across the city.
This potential exposure to a wide range of different demographics makes London Underground advertising a very popular advertising medium. The London Underground targets potential customers on platforms, escalators and inside the tube, who are commuting and have dwell time – the ideal mindset to soak up marketing messages.
The London Underground carries commuters short and long distances in the city and along the countryside. Although the name London Underground may lead you to believe that the train only operates underground, the overwhelming majority of the London Underground 198 miles of the total 250 miles, a whopping 79% is, in actual fact ABOVE ground.
As an out-of-home advertising option, the London Underground has certainly stood the test of time and has been around for over a hundred years, evolving and expanding, adding new routes and stations. This has created opportunities to market more demographics to your outdoor advertising campaign.
Let’s find out more about advertising in the London Underground, which is just like the capital itself, ever-evolving and exciting!
Is advertising in the London Underground effective?
The London Underground is a unique environment. Despite being the oldest underground railway system in the world, London’s historic transport infrastructure remains iconic and innovative to this day.
Not much was known about the effectiveness of ads displayed in the London Underground until a study conducted by Exterion Media was conducted in early 2016. This study proved that advertising in the London Underground was indeed effective and motivated brands from all over the world to consider including this channel within their advertising strategies.
More than 100 participants were observed over a two-week period as they travelled through the Tube network, with their physical responses measured at every moment.
Let’s take a look at the results collected from the study that shows just how effective advertising in the London Underground really is.
Likability of advertisements in the London Underground
48% of the commuters responded that they like the ads they see on the Underground and 48% said they don’t mind them.
Enhancing/influencing commuter journeys
6 out of 10 people say that the ads are a welcome distraction and it helps the time on their journey pass by more quickly.
Advertising in the London Underground has proven to be very effective for multiple reasons and many brands have reaped the benefits of this type of out-of-home advertising. With the right campaign that can grab the attention of your audience and inspire thought or an action, you may be able to reap the benefits and at the very least, increase the awareness of your brand, and its purpose or story.
We’re able to assist in creating great campaigns, with industry experience and an extensive network of out-of-home advertising options in London, EMPIRE is well-positioned to place your brand in prime spots within the London Underground.
You can find out more about advertising in the London Underground by finding out more about outdoor advertising in the UK.
65% of the participants said they found that advertising in the London Underground isn’t as intrusive as other forms of advertising.
60% notice a new ad when it is placed on their regular commutes.
7 out of 10 participants agree that they have time to take notice of adverts on the Underground.
Due to the intermittent nature of the mobile network coverage on the underground, commuters are almost compelled to notice the advertising around them as they may not be as engaged with their phones as they would be above ground where there is better network coverage.
London Underground Advertising Options
There are various types of advertising options in the London Underground to consider when you’re looking to create a captivating campaign using this form of outdoor advertising – all of which have their various benefits and drawbacks.
Before we dive into the benefits and drawbacks of advertising options in the underground, let’s take a look at the types of advertising formats available in the London Underground for advertisers.
London Underground LCD Screen Advertising
Appearing at high footfall corridors throughout the network, LCD screens are a strong way of immediately engaging with audiences because of their high definition display.
LCD screens offer advertisers 5-second, full-motion video slots within a 20-second loop, with display sites situated throughout ticket halls, on platforms and in corridors at many London Underground stations.
London Underground – The Wrap, Oxford Circus.
Moments from the buzzing shops of Selfridges, John Lewis, Nike, Topshop, Zara and Liberty, 360 Corridor Wrap in Oxford Circus is found at the corridor to both northbound entrances of the Victoria and Bakerloo lines and is comprised of several print advertising and digital advertising components. This advertising opportunity combines the favoured Oxford Circus Digiwall 2 and Mega wall on the opposing side and extends the vinyl wrap onto the ceiling and floor delivering an unmissable standout.
London Underground – Waterloo Travelator
Based in London’s busiest station, your brand can create standout domination using 16 bespoke vinyl panels along the Waterloo Travelator line – a 115m tunnel in London’s busiest commuter station that connects the Jubilee line with the Bakerloo and Northern lines.
Surrounding Waterloo station is Southbank, housing a variety of events as well as entertainment, arts and dining venues attracting thousands of eyes daily.
London Underground – Travelator, Bank Underground Station.
Situated directly below London’s buzzing financial services district, the Travelator at Bank Station is exclusively located in a solid environment featuring 16 x bespoke vinyl sheets along an 80m tunnel that connects the Waterloo & City line to the other lines in Bank Station.
London Underground – Tube Car Panels.
Advertising on Tube Car Panels offers the opportunity to grab more attention with your ad campaigns using the average travel time of 21 minutes on the tube. With their close proximity, these ads are constantly visible and legible, allowing comprehensive information to be communicated as commuters have more time to dwell on, and digest your message.
5 Ways, Oxford Circus.
Situated below the busiest shopping street in Europe, 5 Ways covers all exit corridors from the main ticket hall of London’s most iconic London Underground station. Moments away from the buzzing retail outlets of Selfridges, John Lewis, Nike, Topshop, Zara and Liberty, your message will engage with the urban audience just before they step outside onto the shopping strip.
City 16, Sheet Panel Advertising.
City 16 sheet advertising panels are typically located directly outside convenience areas, the London Underground and in high footfall areas of cinemas, train stations, bus stations, and airports.
London Underground – Digital Escalator Panel (D.E.P) Advertising
DEPs are located in London’s premium Underground Stations. They run on either side of the main escalators captivating the mass of daily commuters and tourists entering the London Underground, DEPs ensure high frequency and unavoidable projection of brand/campaign messaging.
You can learn more about the advertising options available to you within the London Underground in our post London Underground Advertising Options.
Advantages of London Underground Advertising
With any ad campaign, you ought to think about the benefits and downsides of the medium of advertising. It is also important to consider whether you will get the desired results and ultimately a positive return on investment. Have a look at the benefits of advertising within the London Underground, below.
Massive exposure and reach
Reaching 4.8 million people every single day across the network, advertising on the London Underground will absolutely deliver numbers. Whether you wish to focus on a particular location and demographic, or get the maximum possible reach for an awareness focused campaign – there’s a choice to fit your marketing objectives to-a-tee!
Wide target market
Your ads have the potential to be seen by people from all around the UK (and indeed the world).
The London Underground is visited by all types of people from all parts of the planet, not just people in London. The booming tourism industry in London can allow you to gain awareness from a wider range of demographics.
In essence, placing your ad within the Underground increases your chances of great brand awareness from a diverse target audience.
Options to suit various marketing budgets
There are different advertising options available to advertisers within the London Underground, depending on the length, the location, and the duration of your campaign, there are options that can be tailored around your budget.
Long campaign exposure can help create positive brand perception
On average commuters spend about 45 minutes in transit, with nothing else to occupy them and nowhere to go aside from their final destination – they often spend their time viewing advertisements in their environment. Your advertisement gets the prospect of extended exposure with enough time to get registered in the consumers’ minds with increased recall value.
Increased Frequency At No Extra Cost!
Most daily commuters travel on fixed routes at scheduled times, meaning they get to take in your ad repeatedly, it’s possible that someone might see your ad a minimum of 20-25 times in a month! The more exposure, the higher the chances that your ad creates a permanent impression, and successfully serves your purpose.
Disadvantages of advertising in the London Underground
Short, dull marketing campaigns could be missed
Due to the fast-paced lifestyle of consumers who are always on their smartphones, if your ad doesn’t break through the clutter, your message could get missed. Your ad could also fail to stay in the mind of the audience if the duration of your campaign is simply too short; the longer your poster is up, the more recognizable it becomes to the consumers and the more reach and impressions you’ll gain.
London Underground advertising is expensive
Advertising on the London underground falls on the more expensive side of Out-of-Home marketing options in the UK and often larger budgets are required to have your desired impact.
Audience’s state of mind when commuting on the London Underground
Sitting or standing on a crowded subway might not be conducive to reading advertising, with the advertiser subject to the mood of the environment, and not necessarily the mood they would like to create, or align, with their message.
If you’re considering other ways to market your brand using other mediums, you might consider using a form of digital advertising, such as Facebook & Instagram Advertising or pursuing radio advertising as your medium of choice.
Costs of advertising in the London Underground
Costs of advertising on the London tube vary depending on a number of factors, and simply asking “How much does it cost to advertise on London underground” or “how much is advertising on the tube”, is not as simple a question to answer as it may seem.
Various factors have an impact on the advertising costs of the Underground, let’s outline some of these factors below:
The dates you will run your advertising campaign.
As with any form of outdoor advertising, popular dates such as Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day and so forth will fall on the pricier side as these dates mean increased volumes in foot traffic through the London Underground with residents and tourists making their commutes to go and be with their loved ones. We recommend booking advertising space far in advance if you want to advertise during these dates as this will allow you the best rates and a choice of top underground advertising sites.
The type or format of your advertisement in the London Underground.
Normally, posters of a larger format are more costly than smaller posters, as they take up more prime placement state for other advertisers.
You may also choose to place your ad on digital advertising billboards and digital screens at different places around the underground, which may be more costly but suit your campaign’s intent more effectively, and help you deliver your message better. Some stations in the underground are equipped with 98 inch LCD full motion screens that display in ultra HD quality which might be the ideal fit for higher budget marketing efforts. Smaller LCD billboard screens are also available, along with vinyl wrap options, as well as printed sheet panels available inside and outside of the tube.
Where to place your ads in The London Underground
Stations that are more central and have greater daily traffic like Oxford Circus and Waterloo, can cost more than underground or overground stations in the countryside or further out of central London.
To decide where you’d like to advertise, it’s worth thinking about your target market and if you specifically want to target certain parts or demographics of the capital.
The length of your advertising campaign
Running a campaign over an extended period of time can be costly, the longer you want posters up, the more expensive.
However, it’s proven that longer campaigns have a better return on investment due to the frequency of commuters on that exact route, your ad becomes recognisable to them every day that they encounter it.
Most tube advertisement placements span a minimum of 2 weeks, whilst the majority of advertisers tend to do a month or more.
Final thoughts on the London Underground
Now that we have taken a look at how you can take advantage of the London Underground as an advertising platform, let’s quickly round up some final thoughts and things to keep in mind should you choose to add this element to your marketing strategy.
When it comes to the type of ad you choose, make sure that your graphic design delivers your message effectively and cuts through the noise. Most importantly ensure that it meets your set objectives, such as:
- Increasing website visits.
- Visit you in-store.
- Sign up.
- Boost brand awareness, word of mouth and the recall of your products and services.
Make sure you choose a great location that will allow maximum impact and visibility, this may mean booking your spot months in advance and strategically picking a time period when you’ll run your ad.
Take into account the various costs associated with your chosen spot and work within your budget to ensure maximum return on investment, we would suggest contacting us as we have years of industry experience to help you achieve the best results possible.
Your International London Underground Advertising Partner
London Underground advertising is a sure way to get your brand in front of the eyes of millions of commuters daily.
EMPIRE can help you gain massive brand exposure and reach from a diverse target audience, with dynamic eye-catching advertisements that grab the attention of commuters and deliver your brand message effectively. We are able to tailor your advertising needs and ensure that you get the best bang for the buck.
As we’ve mentioned, the typical forms of advertising in the London Underground are in the form of print adverts and digital adverts, but we also offer assistance outside of the underground with print advertising across the UK including a wide range of prestigious publications, if you’re interested.
With years of industry experience in the advertising field, our team is ready to walk you through every step to ensure your London Underground campaign is a success and can assist you with advertising using any other mediums you might have in mind. Get in touch with us today!