LONDON: There were almost 1.7bn rail passenger journeys in the UK in 2015-16, a record high, and with the average commute lasting 40 minutes new research suggests this provides opportunities for OOH and digital marketers to engage.

Ian Reynolds, Managing Director of KBH On-Train Media, explained in an article for European Railway Review that commuters have "the time to read, absorb and then act upon classic out-of-home messaging".

He cited research his company had conducted, which found a full 94% of commuting consumers noticed on-train ads during their journey.

What's more, a similar proportion (90%) used their smartphones during their train journey, while significant numbers used their mobile devices to shop online while still on the train.

Specifically, nearly a third (30%) browsed general retailer websites during their journey, while a fifth (20%) purchased from those sites.

And of those who bought a product or service they saw advertised on a train, 28% made the purchase immediately – in other words, while still travelling.

Reynolds contended that this finding suggested a "clear relationship between on-train advertising and on-train connectivity in driving online sales".

While the research should come with the caveat that KBH On-Train Media has an obvious commercial interest in promoting the benefits of on-train OOH marketing, it nonetheless has experience of working with 13 leading train operating companies [TOCs].

Among them is GTR Thameslink, which operates a number of franchises in England, and Reynolds explained how the company used "traincard" advertising sites to raise awareness and drive passengers online to its bookings website.

"By building a clearer picture of consumer travel behaviours, and drawing out what this new commuter shopper archetype looks like, it's clear to see that classic media opportunities on the UK's rail networks offer lucrative opportunities for advertisers and TOCs in an increasingly digital world," Reynolds said.

"Reaching 7.1m affluent, connected and influential rail users every four weeks, traditional on-train ads still play a key role in influencing consumer behaviour. This classic medium has demonstrated an ability to remain resilient, holding its own in today's competition for attention," he added.

Data sourced from European Railway Review, KBH; additional content by WARC staff