Cell service has long been a desire of New York City travelers, and in recent years Wi-Fi has certainly taken position alongside of it. Both cell and Wi-Fi capabilities would greatly improve the communications possibilities in the subway system both in terms of personal use and marketing potential. The degree of improvement for subway users would be substantial as cell service would bring a layer of convenience to the subway and travelers would not have to compromise their communications and reachability. The same can be said for Wi-Fi but this adds in an additional element of entertainment to the benefit of improved communications. Further, bringing Wi-Fi to this transport space essentially changes marketing potential in the transport system. This development opens up advertising in the system to be leveraged with internet marketing and SEO to drive more targeted traffic to brands' web properties.

Transit Wireless is a company initiated to address the MTA's call for wireless infrastructure for the NY Transit system. Two stations have received the upgrade from this company, and both cell service and free Wi-Fi will be in 30 other subway stations by the end of 2012. A few notable stations that will receive cell service this year are Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Columbus Circle, and other stations on 96th Street. These steps will immediately make more communication options available for the travelers and the implications for marketers are clear.

Business, Internet Marketing, & SEO Potential
As the Wi-Fi is rolled out throughout New York's underground system, a new audience of mobile web users will emerge. Beyond the convenience and entertainment benefits of watching videos and emailing, web users will be searching the internet in greater numbers will in the subway. This has several implications that business marketers can capitalize on:

  • Local SEO will be greatly impacted as many of these travelers will be looking for specific places in the city as they are traveling. Businesses that partner with SEO companies can have their web presence optimized for location and subject-specific search terms like restaurants in Soho. As such, they will rank higher in search engine results for those related search queries, driving more targeted traffic for their web properties and improve patronage.
  • An immediate web-capable audience that is able to go online to get more information regarding print ads that appear in the subway will result. Marketers can leverage traditional ads with the mobile web and apps to further engage potential customers, widen exposure, and offer a deeper connection regarding ad content.

The one challenge that marketers in this context need to address is appropriately engaging the subway travelers by providing effective prompts and calls to action that bridge the traditional advertising to the mobile platform. Ads that travelers can get close to can provide QR codes, but additional technologies should be utilized for further engagement.  

For more information on how your business can capitalize on the marketing potential that exists in the NY subway system and other scenes where billboards and posters can be leveraged with mobile marketing, reach out to be directly at rbuddenhagen@webimax.com.