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The Cost of Public Space Advertising

Spacing Wire blogger Matt Blackett had a letter published in the Toronto Star on Saturday:

Letter writer Sandra Jackson seems to allude that if the TTC were to rid the transit system of advertisements, our fares would skyrocket to $5. If you look at the amount of yearly ad revenue that the TTC generates and factor that into our fares, you'll see that ads save each rider only 4 cents a trip. The visual impact advertising has on our transit system certainly outweighs the value to riders. Turning the tunnels of our subway system into animated ads only cheapens the TTC, and probably will not even save each rider a penny a trip. We should be asking ourselves if the constant bombardment and proliferation of marketing campaigns is worth it to us as riders, and as a society.

I'm not religiously opposed to advertising in public spaces, but if it's going to happen the price certainly has to make it worthwhile.

The problem is that the public officials responsible for selling advertising rights do so under skewed conditions. In deciding whether to go forward, it's natural for them to undervalue the abstract cost of ugliness paid by the public at large, while favouring a relatively modest sum of hard cash paid to them.

The latest TTC advertising initiative involves movies visible outside the windows of moving trains.

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