Boardwalk Tram Roof Ads Proposed

OCEAN CITY – The resort’s public transportation will be getting a makeover before next summer in order to generate alternative revenues.

Ocean City Public Works Director Hal Adkins explained that as the department prepares for next year’s budget it has come up with a few alternative revenue sources as the summer season approaches.

“The reason I am bringing this to you today is because many of the buys will be done in the near future as we head into the summer season, and we did not want to miss that opportunity,” Adkins said.

In the past, advertising opportunities have been provided only on the exterior of the city’s transit buses. In working with the town’s transit advertising company, Direct Media, two other advertising opportunities have been suggested involving transit buses.

Adkins recommended advertising headliners above the exterior windows, which could generate around $19,000 in revenue, and also above the interior windows, which could generate approximately $29,000. The advertising opportunities suggested would be placed on Ocean City’s 18 new low floor buses.

Next, advertising space on ADA vans was presented. Currently, all three vans do not have advertising. Two vans are used for on-island service and the third is used for MEDTRN.

Direct Media projected revenue of about $6,400 in advertising opportunities on the ADA vans.

“An example that would be ideal for MEDTRN, is something medically related like CVS, Rite Aid, Atlantic General, things of that sort,” Adkins said.

Adkins titled the last suggestion a “revenue concept swap” on the Boardwalk Trams. Ocean City is in contract with Comcast for assistance in selling advertisements on the trams’ visual DVD operated projection screen and audio, but Adkins revealed that the town is losing money on the effort. He said that due to costs attributed to maintenance, replacements and labor to keep the system operational to meet the expectations of advertisers there is a loss in revenue. In 2009 and 2010, the town lost over $21,000 and in 2011 there was a loss of over $4,000.

Adkins proposed to cancel the DVD effort with Comcast and swap with an alternative means of revenue by advertising on the exterior roof of the Boardwalk trams.

“This one is a little outside of the box,” Adkins acknowledged.

Adkins added that the advertisements would not affect the typical beach-goer or Boardwalk patron because they will not be visible to the audience on ground level. They will instead attract the attention of those looking out from the hotels or condominiums onto the Boardwalk. Direct Media indicates that this advertising opportunity could generate up to $28,000 if the entire fleet is sold out.

Councilwoman Mary Knight made a motion to have additional advertising on the transit buses, ADA vans and on the roofs of the Boardwalk trams and to discontinue the DVD system but keep the option open to have audio on the trams.

Councilwoman Margaret Pillas reminded the room that she has always been opposed to advertising on the beach and Boardwalk.

“I have always been concerned that the smaller people on the Boardwalk … that they can’t afford advertising and this will give the people with more advertising dollars to have this,” she said. “It’s more and more of someone talking to you while you are on vacationing constantly going after dollars in your pocket.”

The City Council voted to approve the alternative transportation revenue sources with a 6 to 1 vote with Pillas opposed.