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Tram ad plan in limbo after no locals bite

(Jan. 16, 2015) No more light-up ads will be coming to the tops of the tram cars this summer — or at least not ones from local businesses.

City Hall is holding off on making any budgetary changes for what was originally expected to be a revenue windfall from tram advertising, given that no local businesses have expressed interest in the deal.

“We did not receive any local response to the offer to advertise on the trams,” said City Manager David Recor. “The national companies do their media buys in the months of February and March…at this time we do not have any realized revenue.”

During this past summer, the city installed backlit advertising panels on top of one of the city’s 16 tram cars, with the idea of testing the market for an expanded program in the future.

The panels cost roughly $7,500 for each car, with revenues expected to average $4,000 per car per month. The city receives 65 percent of that revenue, with the rest going to its transit advertising agent, Direct Media.

This would mean that, while the tram ads would be a break-even proposition at best in their first year, they would generate up to $125,000 of profit for the city in years after.

In continuing with the program, however, the city council had expressed a desire to see local businesses take the remaining ads — as opposed to McDonald’s, which occupies the sole current panel.

Boardwalk businesses had also given mixed reviews of the advertising, raising concerns that the panels were a bit garish.

“The Boardwalk Development Committee had expressed an interest in having some discussions with the mayor and council regarding the design of the advertising displays, were we to move forward,” Recor said.

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