Streetcar Advertising in America

The Local advertiser dealing with consumers only, and usually already well known to his readers, has to impress upon them that he has a better store, more attractive prices and gives better service than his competitors. As you peruse the advertising cards presented in this book, view them from a consumer’s point of view. How many of them follow the principles presented here? If the product were available today…would you buy it? See how many products advertised almost 100 years ago in this book are STILL available today! How Streetcar Card Advertising is Sold The following section describes in detail how streetcar advertising was marketed in the United States; it is extracted from the International Library of Technology which published a series of textbooks on the advertising industry – Streetcar Advertising (1917) . Sizes and Positions of Streetcar Advertising Cards The average electric car displays 24 11 x 21 inch car cards – 12 on each side of the car. In some of the larger cities, some of the big electric cars can hold 36 cards. Most elevated, subway, interurban and suburban cars have from four to six end spaces in addition to space in the racks which make a total of from forty to fifty spaces. The cards in elevated trains and some suburban coaches are 16” x 24”. Spaces over the doors at the ends of these cars are 16” x 48”. Frames of various sizes are also installed on both sides of the doors of some center-door coaches. Cards are inserted randomly by the various transit companies. The different car-advertising companies do not guarantee any particular position to an advertiser except when he contracts for an individual frame. Basic Charges for Streetcar Advertising The basis of the charge for streetcar advertising is circulation – though quality is considered as well as quantity of spaces purchased. In New York City, some advertisers pay as high as $3 per card per month for selected lines. On several Chicago car lines the charge can be as high as a $1 per card. The rate generally accepted by the majority of the car-advertising companies is 50 cents per card per month on a 12 month contract. Streetcar advertising in New York and other large cities is sold on the basis of runs – a full, half, third, quarter or eighth run on all of the lines are certain lines that the advertiser may choose. A full run means the card will appear on EVERY car whereas a half run would be that the card would only appear on half of the cars. Streetcar contracts are usually negotiated on a 12 month basis … sometimes 6 months or even 3 months for a seasonal product (but at higher rates). Most cards were displayed for full month periods. Contracts for less than a full run can be negotiated in large cities; advertisers are charged a premium (usually 5 cents per month for half run or 10 cents per month for a quarter run). Contracts allow for a change of cards once a month; in fact, the practice of changing cards at least this often is encouraged by all car advertising companies.


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