It isn’t a mere coincidence that the Times Square is also referred to as the most valuable advertising space on the planet. With a signature of America’s corporate bigwigs, millions spent in those flashy, digital and neon billboards and an endless stream of both native and foreign sightseers, the place is incomparable. It is incredibly bright, shamelessly gaudy and all streets and driveways always packed to capacity, which subtly explains why many feel no pinch paying an insane amount for the ads.

It costs between a million dollars and four million dollars a year to rent a space in the towering building. For brands that can afford it, such an amount can be recouped later even when it is hard to understand how. According to the Times Square Advertising Coalition, all the 300,000+ individuals that fill the space regularly spend at least eight minutes of their estimated 81-minute stroll looking at the adverts.

Is the amount spent on Times Square worth the airtime achieved?

Such a massive exposure can only be rivaled by those following the Super Bowl, although at such a glitzy event, a 30-second commercial between $2.6 million and $3.8 million. But even when it is a booming business to both the Times Square and those who rent the towering billboard space, many still question whether $4 million for a single billboard makes financial sense.

To better understand whether the amount spent is reasonable, let’s divide the amount to monthly costs. Pundits and industry insiders peg the monthly costs at between $200,000 and $350,000 monthly, although some ads run for a month or two while a massive list of them are multi-year deals. And when the costs only cover the space and not the technology employed, running expenses and maintenances, perhaps the skeptics are right.

Another major issue is the issue of a non-differentiated audience that might not even convert into sales because of not fitting in what the ad is portraying. Sure, the thousands that flock the Square mainly comprise tourists whose financial capabilities might not allow buying the advertised services.

What the Statistics Say

  • A minimum of 300,000 people walks through the Times Square daily.
  • Roughly 50% of them are from New York.
  • The average age of the visitors is 32 years with 48% of them having college degrees.
  • As many as 243,358 will post about the visit on social media.
  • In the end, billboard advertiser will expect a minimum of 1.5 million impressions after every day.

And so, there’s no guarantee that the 300,000-480,000 persons will help the company recover the millions spent. Meanwhile, Times Square will continue to be the most sought-after advertising haven given the allure of 40 million annual individual visitors or 14% of the US population.

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Preeti specializes in covering brands, marketing innovation and consumer trends.