As educational funding remains forefront on political agendas, it is not a surprise that school districts are searching for new ways to bring in money. School bus advertising is popping up across the country; with considerable profits for school districts. The new method is currently being used in six states; with many more considering the idea.
While advertising has been prevalent in public schools in recent years, it has never been this noticeable. Ads at high school sporting events, in gyms and football fields used to be the extent of such advertising. The idea behind school bus advertising is based on visibility in the community. Drivers see dozens of school buses on a daily basis. This amount of visibility is extremely valuable to advertisers; similar to a moving billboard.
In 2008, Colorado’s Jefferson County school district signed a four-year contact with FirstBank of Colorado for a bus advertising campaign with a payout of $500,000. This is a considerable amount of money for struggling school districts; especially for those still facing cuts.
Advertisements do have restrictions. Anything promoting alcohol, tobacco, drugs, religion, politics or anything with a sexual context has not been used thus far. School districts must balance the need for revenue and the responsibility of not exposing school children to controversial content on their buses.
Currently, six states allow advertising on public school buses including Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Tennessee and New Mexico. New Jersey approved advertising in January, becoming the sixth state. Other states are realizing the benefits, and considering the idea of advertising on buses. States expected to jump on board include Utah, Florida, Oklahoma, Washington and Kentucky.
Advertising for over 3,000 buses in Arizona and Texas is managed by Alpha Media. Michael Beauchamp, president of Alpha Media, explained the benefits of bus advertising to USAToday by saying “This is more lucrative, because it’s out there on a daily basis.” He estimates that advertising on 100 buses will generate about $125,000 per year.