Resort Committee Pitches Ad Trial For New Tram Displays; Officials Talk Project Delays

Resort Committee Pitches Ad Trial For New Tram Displays; Officials Talk Project Delays
File Photo

OCEAN CITY – Members of a resort committee agreed to push for a free advertising trial as officials continue to troubleshoot issues related to new digital tram signs.

On Tuesday, the Ocean City Transportation Committee agreed to work with Gateway Outdoor Advertising to roll out a trial campaign for existing bus and tram advertisers interested in placing ads on new digital tram displays. Officials say the promotion would not only allow officials to troubleshoot ongoing technical issues, but would incentivize companies to purchase digital ad space next season.

“You’re not going to make any money off of this in the next few days. That’s something we have to accept,” Mayor Rick Meehan said this week. “But just offer it as a free add-on to those who already have contracts so people can start seeing ads on there and maybe get an idea of what they look like in order to encourage not only those companies but other companies to advertise next year.”

Last fall, the Town of Ocean City hired Gateway to replace Vector Media as its new advertising contractor. The company has been tasked with overseeing advertising on the town’s bus and tram fleets, as well as digital advertising that will be placed on the back of the Boardwalk trams.

In an update Tuesday, Transit Manager Rob Shearman said the installation of the digital tram displays continues to be a problem. He said only four of the seven displays work on a consistent basis.

“This still remains an area of concern for us and the technical troubleshooting really has been and continues to be a frustration,” he told the committee. “To use a Boardwalk analogy, it’s still a bit of a whack-a-mole situation. We address electrical issues and then we find data connectivity is a problem. We get the data connectivity solved, and we go back to having power issues. It seems like every time we turn around there’s still something causing three out of the seven to have technical issues.”

Complicating matters, Shearman said, is the narrowing window for having the tram displays up and running. Officials noted that trams would be in operation for Bikefest and Sunfest before the season concluded.

“The other concern is that the time for us to troubleshoot these things is waning,” Shearman said. “They’re about to go in the garage for six months, so it’s difficult to get some sort of real road test offseason with these things.”

Shearman noted the transportation department continued to work with Gateway to find a solution to technical problems. Council Secretary Tony DeLuca, committee member, noted it was the second issue the town has had with Gateway. He also expressed concerns over the company’s advertising sales.

“This is two issues,” he said. “So caution, red flag.”

Meehan said the town should meet with Gateway to receive an update on advertising sales. He questioned if any ads have been sold for the digital displays.

“Do we actually have any contracts for the digital signs other than utilizing it for city events?” he asked.

Shearman said Gateway had yet to sell ads, but that the digital signs were currently being used by the tourism department to promote the resort.

“This is the rate card they provided to me …,” he replied, pointing to a page in the committee’s agenda packet. “The plan is to hit the current customers with this first and get some ads up on the board, get their attention. The rates you are seeing here is what they’re publishing, but the plan is to go and pitch steeply discounted numbers to get the program up and running.”

Meehan, however, encouraged officials to develop a free trial campaign that would begin immediately.

“If we do this, I think it would really help the program in the future,” he said.

Councilwoman Carol Proctor agreed.

“I think once these are up and running, it’s going to be extremely successful,” she said.

After further discussion, the committee agreed to have Gateway develop a free trial campaign for the new digital signs.

“Let’s utilize it as advertising its own advertising,” Meehan said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.