I was going to blog about the decision of KBH Media to limit the amount of charity advertising on trains in London and the south east. However, Paul at Open beat me to it and made many of the points I was going to make.
However, there is one main observation that I would still like to share, which backs the point Charlie Hulme made on 101 Fundraising earlier this week.
Quality over quantity
For me the problem is not one of over supply, it's one of quality. As this channel is increasingly popular, it means that charities will have to work harder to stand out and innovate. What worked six months ago, may not work now.
KBH say that some charities have asked for a limit to be imposed on the number of ads per carriage. I'd wager a fair amount it is charities that have seen disappointing results and not those who have made a big success of train ads.
I've seen this first hand. With our first two attempts at train ads we got some great results. On roll-out we had a part disaster/part qualified success. I don't blame too much competition for this; I blame us for not improving between campaigns.
When fundraising fails, people normally blame external factors rather looking at the quality of their work. High quality fundraising works regardless of the competition.
What will be the impact of limiting the supply?
Based on classic economic theory, whenever you limit supply price goes up.
KBH insist that isn't their intention, but I do worry that many smaller and medium sized charities will be squeezed out of using this medium as the big charities hoover up the capacity.
We've seen this happen with face to face fundraising with many smaller charities unable to meet supplier minimums for recruiting donors as larger charities buy up much of the capacity.
This has led to an issue of quantity over quality (with a race to the bottom on cost), which is one of the reasons for face to face has had such a bad press. It's still a great way to recruit donors, but it's becoming increasingly important to stand out and engage donors in different ways - see how Oxfam have used a bucket to improve their street results.
I hope KBH’s offer of dialogue is genuine and fundraiser’s can work together to make the most of mobile and train advertising.