The aim is to generate more money for the city’s transit service, although where the extra funds would go has not been earmarked yet, says David Pepper, the city’s manager of business and operational services. That would be determined by council, he adds.
"We're upping the presence of our advertising in OC Transpo, and we're looking for expanded revenue," Mr. Pepper says.
A request for proposals, currently being advertised on procurement site Merx, will winnow out third party advertising agencies' ideas for bringing OC Transpo’s decade-old advertising policies into the world of smartphones.
Last refreshed in 2003, the current contract with Patterson Outdoor Advertising generates almost $3.3 million annually for OC Transpo. Revenue streams include $1.5 million for interior and exterior bus advertising, $1.6 million for on-street bus shelters and about $168,000 for street benches, Mr. Pepper says.
This latest request for proposals will change the way bus advertising itself is done, while leaving aside the shelters and benches for another contract.
Advertising in vehicles will remain, but will also be expanded to include Transitway stations, digital properties such as the website and mobile apps, and print advertising that could be used in bus stop timetables as well as brochures.
Naming rights for the stations are explicitly not allowed, Mr. Pepper says, meaning familiar stations such as Lincoln Fields and Mackenzie King will not have advertisements put in their names.
Rather, OC Transpo is looking at opportunities to place ads within the stations, such as on the walls, or by replacing the aging electronic timetables with a more modern system.
While OC Transpo has several new revenue opportunities available, the city is hoping to have one proponent take care of all of the advertising, for simplicity’s sake.
Mr. Pepper says the city realizes that may not happen and is open to alternative ideas.
"The reality is, those (advertising opportunities) are in some cases, specialized areas," he says. "We would entertain it if two companies came together with a consortium bid."
The new contract will run from Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2022. OC Transpo will receive an unspecified minimum annual guarantee in advertising dollars from the winning proponent.
For any advertising sold above that threshold, OC Transpo will receive 60 per cent of the revenue generated by sales, while the advertising agency will receive 40 per cent.
The request for proposals closes Oct. 4.