What Factors Affect the Cost of Bus Advertising?

As with any form of advertising, certain factors impact the cost. Here are some of the influencers on bus advertising prices.

Period of Hire

The longer the rental period, the more it will cost, although it’s always worth looking for loyalty discounts for extended bookings and repeat business.

Bus Type and Size

There is a surprising variety of bus designs and sizes ranging from standard single-decker buses to double-deckers and even coaches and minibuses. Larger buses tend to have a higher charge for advertising, but it also depends on the actual size of the ad. A more prominent advert on a smaller bus may be similar price-wise to a smaller advert on a larger vehicle.

Advertising Format?

Small ad formats like supersides or rears will be cheaper than full bus wraps.


The location is an interesting one. Most billboard advertising is static; vehicular advertising is, of course, mobile. Busy city centres have higher demand, so the prices are more expensive. Advertising on buses that route through smaller towns and rural areas will be more cost-effective but will reach fewer people.

Volume and Reach

The number of routes and buses involved in the campaign can influence costs. Advertising on several buses covering multiple routes will bump up the expense.

Demand and Availability

The demand for bus space at a given time will impact cost. Expect prices to be higher before Christmas or during major events, which might be specific to the town or city where the bus operates.

These higher rates are based on the number of people drawn into the town or city centre for a particular occasion or a popular retail period and reflect higher anticipated footfall.

Planning a bus advertising campaign well in advance will put you in a prime position for early bookings well ahead of busy periods and underpins the importance of a forward-thinking advertising strategy that covers at least the next twelve months.

Different Types of Bus Ads

Bus Wraps

Bus wraps envelop the entire surface of the bus, which is treated like an artist’s canvas for the advertisement. The bus essentially becomes a mobile billboard.

Bus wraps impact pedestrians and other vehicle users but are only visible to passengers when they get on and off the bus. Bus wraps allow for hugely creative designs with clever visuals and challenging graphics that really capture attention.

Bus Side Panels

Side panel advertising is just that: designs on the side of the bus. These adverts are strategically visible to cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians and offer a broad demographic reach. There are so many clever ways to capture attention.

Rear Panels

Advertising on bus rear panels of a bus is a golden opportunity to catch the attention of motorists and pedestrians following behind, particularly in busy city centres where traffic often queues.

A famous rear panel bus advert for the well-known opticians’ SpecSavers’ cleverly uses the impact of not wearing glasses or failing to have your eyes tested. The advertisement uses the standard company tagline ‘Should’ve gone to SpecSavers’ with a graphic of the rear of the bus crumpled into a road sign, suggesting that the bus driver has reversed into it.

Interior Advertising

Interior advertising is aimed solely at the bus passengers and can be placed on the overhead compartments, above or on the back of the seats.

Interior adverts deliver focused messages and are an excellent way to promote local businesses located on the bus route. Equally, this type of promotion works well with digital companies that are just one click away on an app.

Bus Advertising Targeting Options

As with any form of advertising, the key to bus advertising is to reach specific audiences.

Select bus routes that align with target demographics and geographical areas. For instance, a company looking to target the 18-24 age bracket can advertise on buses that operate on routes near college and university campuses.

Bus advertising is a very flexible medium that allows campaigns to be tailored based on different factors like the day of the week, time of day, or specific events. Display an advert during rush hour to target commuters or during the weekend for shoppers and leisure seekers.

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What Makes a Good Bus Advertisement?

  • Clear and engaging messaging – the viewer’s time is limited, so the message must be clear and concise – this could be text, visuals, or a mixture of the two. There can be a lot of competition and distraction for viewers in a busy town centre environment, so getting your message to stand out is essential.
  • High-Quality Design – you’ll need a professional graphic designer to create your advertisement, and a company with experience in bus advertising is crucial. Images must be high-resolution to avoid blurring, and using visually appealing elements is something your designer will prioritise. A bus advert may look very different from other company advertisements, but this reflects the USPs of the medium.
  • Location Selection – the right bus routes and locations are vital determiners of the advert’s success or failure. Plenty of data is available on different routes and their demographics to help ensure that your advert is seen by the right people in the right place and at the right time.
  • Multi-Channel Integration – all advertising should integrate into a holistic marketing strategy, and bus adverts are no different. Integration amplifies reach and creates a coherent and cohesive brand experience that maximizes different touchpoints for the target audience.
  • Tracking and Evaluation – integrated advertising provides another advantage: it makes it easier to track the effectiveness of a bus advert campaign. Monitoring essential metrics like brand awareness and increased website traffic or sales helps gauge the campaign’s impact, allowing for adjustments if necessary.

Best Routes in the UK for Bus Advertising

Analysing data from statistics produced by the Department of Transport, it’s possible to ascertain the total bus miles driven by each local authority in the UK per 100.000 of the population. These figures suggest which areas of the UK will have the most bus advert views by the public, including people riding on the bus and pedestrians. In descending order of bus miles, here are the locations.

  • North West Leicestershire – 125 million bus miles
  • Lancashire – 15.37 million bus miles
  • Norfolk – 5.44 million bus miles
  • Tyne and Wear – 3.48 million bus miles
  • West Midlands – 3.26 million bus miles
  • London – 3.25 million bus miles
  • Brighton and Hove – 2.88 million bus miles
  • Darlington – 2.8 million bus miles
  • Nottingham – 2.71 million bus miles
  • North Esat – 2.69 million bus miles

It’s a revelation to see London so far down the list, as 2.2 billion bus trips are made on London buses every year. The reason is the shorter length of the journeys, as this data only looks at total bus miles. However, with the density of people in London, the number of advertisement views would still be extremely high, demonstrating that choosing a location is more complex than it first appears.

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Final Thoughts

Bus advertising is part of a concept called OOH or Out-of-Home advertising, and recent research suggests that this style of promotion produces the highest levels of customer recall than almost every other type of media.

Bus adverts are cost-effective compared to other forms of advertising like television, radio, or print, which often carry substantial price tags. It’s affordable and has a vast reach and visibility, so it is a high lister when it comes to CPM.

Bus advertising campaigns can be tailored so they work within set budgets. There’s flexibility to influence spend by altering the duration of a campaign. They are durable and remain visible for extended periods, unlike television advertising or internet promotions, which can easily be scrolled past and will probably fall victim to ad-blocking software.

Bus advertising is accessible, adaptable, and affordable, so it is an option for businesses of all sizes, from startups to local companies and even multinational corporations. There are options for static advertisements, digital adverts, and striking visual wraparounds on one vehicle. The message to companies is, don’t miss the bus!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the advantages of bus advertising?

Buses are an ever-present mode of transport travelling in a wide array of urban and rural areas and reaching a really diverse cross-section of demographics. Advertisers can cast a wide net and achieve extensive market coverage. Buses are mobile, so they can continuously engage potential customers across different locations. Bus adverts command attention and draw the eye – they are remarkably visible. This heightened visibility is a big player in brand recall, ensuring that the company, product, or service leaves a lasting impression. Also, bus advertising can reach a demographic who uses the internet less or not at all.

What does CPM mean?

CPM stands for Cost per Impression and is a marketing metric that measures the price point of different types of advertising. Bus advertising offers a reasonable CPM compared to other mediums like radio and television.

Where can you advertise on a bus?

Bus adverts can be located inside (although visibility is obviously limited to the passengers), on the side (supersides), and at the rear. It’s also possible to opt for full vehicle wraps. The bus interior offers different locations, such as overhead panels, seatbacks, and window decals. Digital screens inside buses are also popular.

How can I track the effectiveness of a bus advertising campaign?

Tracking bus advertising response is tricky, rather like monitoring the effectiveness of a static billboard; however, certain techniques can help. Monitoring specific metrics like website traffic and social media engagement can assist. If you use a specific promotional code or trackable QR code, then these can deliver quite precise information.

What are the latest trends in bus advertising?

Bus advertising is now beginning to incorporate digital elements designed to enhance engagement and interactivity. Digital screens inside buses display rich, dynamic content, allowing for programmatic advertising, which includes real-time updates and interaction. Augmented reality (AR) or QR codes add more information and bridge the gap between online and offline advertising plus, this can be an effective tool to help monitor the impact of a bus advertising campaign. Special effects can also be included like the ground-breaking smoke emitting from the bus’s tail light on an exterior advert for the movie ‘Aladdin.’ As technology develops at breakneck speed, these features will become more diverse and commonplace.

What is the link between bus advertising and environmental considerations?

Bus operators are part of a big focus to lower carbon emissions from vehicles in congested inner cities. Consequently, many bus companies are promoting their sustainability and eco-friendly practices, presenting an opportunity for like-minded companies to jump on the band wagon. Companies can explore using eco-friendly materials and align with green messages promoting public transport and environmental awareness. This resonates with socially conscious consumers and has a strong demographic reach. There are clear opportunities for linked advertising, which could also be used to generate a discount in cost.

Mike Alexander
I’m Mike, a seasoned professional with a decade of experience in the dynamic realms of marketing and advertising. My journey has been fueled by a passion for staying at the forefront of outdoor advertising trends. I look forward to helping you to realised your advertising ambitions.
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