The Cost of Digital Advertising in Times Square and Why It’s Probably Worth It

Jun 7, 2024

A billboard in Times Square might not be the most original advertising tactic, but some marketers are in no hurry to reinvent the wheel—and industry data suggests they’re right to stick with it.

While people are glued to their phones and the media is fixated on each new iteration of ChatGPT, R.E.D. Marketing is adding out-of-home (OOH) advertising management to its suite of services.

"It just makes perfect business sense if you look at the numbers," its proprietor, Chimdi Blaise, said. "On the surface, it does seem that this form of advertising is a thing of the past, but it is, in fact, booming and is expected to grow further this decade."

And insiders are indeed saying that. For instance, Data Bridge Market Research said in its latest forecast on the OOH industry in North America that the market can experience a CAGR of 10.8% between 2021 and 2028. It attributed this growth to factors such as increased spending on programmatic ads and the adoption of digital ads.

"These figures surprised even us," Blaise said. "You’d expect more Americans are staying indoors after the pandemic and the shift to remote working, but that’s not really what’s happening."

In 2023, Kantar reported that all the top five media channels selected by consumers require people to "go out." This, it said, made in-person ad experiences "more pronounced."

Blaise said that OOH is also evolving, with companies looking for new OOH ad opportunities to stand out. "The bigger—and the more it gets viral—the better," he said.

One recent example of such opportunities is the $2.3 billion MSG Sphere in Las Vegas. The largest spherical structure in the world is covered with 580,000 sq. ft. of LED screens, making it one of the largest OOH platforms currently.

Figures being passed around on the web say that the Sphere attracts over 300,000 viewers daily, but the bulk of its impressions emanate from social media, with 4.4 million Sphere-related posts being viewed every day.

Achieving such impressive numbers, however, requires an equally impressive investment. For example, a campaign that will run for one day only will set one back $450,000.

For those who don’t have that spending power, Blaise suggests other options such as New York’s Times Square—America’s most-visited tourist destination.

But tourism is not just what makes it an attractive option for any marketer or business. On busier days, Times Square’s daily pedestrian count reaches 450,000, according to estimates from its official site.

Blaise said that showing one’s ad to such a crowd—while still not cheap at about $300,000 monthly—costs much less than running the same campaign on the Sphere. "For many, seeing a well-executed ad campaign in a location like Times Square is an experience," he said. "And experiences are often shared."

This content is provided in partnership with R.E.D. Marketing and is intended for informational purposes only. The views, opinions, and advice expressed in this article are solely those of R.E.D. Marketing and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of any other individual, organization, or entity.

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