At Times Square, it’s “location-location-location” when it comes to advertising.

The building at 1 Times Square in New York City is nearly 100% vacant.

One Times Square Building (2010).
One Times Square Building (2010).

But if you’re the owner of the building, why should you even care?

That’s because the building takes in a reported near-$25 million per year in advertising revenues – thanks to the digital signage on the building being rented to top brands like Anheuser-Busch, Dunkin’ Donuts and Sony (among others).

Media, Sports & Entertainment Marketing Officer Blaise D’Sylva of Anheuser-Busch keeps it pithy:

“There’s a statement we make in being there – and we think the placement we’ve got is outstanding.”

Of course, there’s more to it than simply “making a statement.”  According to the Times Square Alliance, each year more than 100 million pedestrians pass through Times Square.

Moreover, foot traffic volume is running ~90% higher compared to 1996.

I’m quite sure these traffic volumes are central to any go/no-go advertising decisions being made by the big brands.

Where night is day:  Times Square advertising.
Where the night is as bright as day: Times Square advertising.

The Wall Street Journal reports that billboard signage in Times Square is actually the priciest outdoor advertising in the world.

Considering its location at the intersection of “high traffic” and “high trend,” marketers think it’s an investment worth making — and the rates they’re willing to pay proves the point.

Outdoor advertising that’s really “out” there.

Adzookie House
Adding a lot of class to the neighborhood: Adzookie puts the "outré" in outdoor advertising.
There’s an interesting story that’s been swirling around the past few days about out-of-home advertising. Evidently, mobile ad network firm Adzookie is on the prowl for using someone’s house as an advertising placard.

As in “the entire house.” Or nearly all of it; Adzookie plans to place its logo, marketing messages and social media icons along with highly visible hues on every inch of surface save the rooftop, windows and awnings.

And what’s in it for the homeowner? Adzookie is claiming it will pay the mortgage on each house it selects for the honors.

Already, well over 1,000 applications from property owners have been received. The vast majority involve houses, but there are also restaurants, other businesses, and even a house of worship that have been submitted. You can click over to Adzookie’s Facebook page to view many of the pictures and pitches received.

How will Adzookie make its decision? Key, of course, will be traffic density; homes in sleepy sub-divisions or cul-de-sacs won’t have much of a chance. Then there’s also the issue of restrictive homeowner associations or the howls of protestation over “eye pollution” from nearby neighbors. That’ll knock quite a few more out of contention.

But here’s another tidbit that may turn out to be a deal-breaker for most of the remaining applications: CNNMoney magazine is reporting that Adzookie’s budget for the entire program is only ~$100,000 … and that includes the cost of painting the home(s) in question.

Even in this depressed real estate market, there aren’t too many houses that have a mortgage that low – unless you’re talking about a home in the City of Detroit, perhaps.

This capricious initiative proves yet again that in today’s world of advertising and promotion, pretty much anything goes. And if the idea is quirky enough, it’ll generate publicity in and of itself – thereby helping to bring about the desired awareness and interest even before the first slaps of the paintbrush ever hit the house.

Good going, Adzookie.

Signs of the Times

Divine, aka Harris Glenn MilsteadIt absolutely had to happen.

Reports from Japan are that facial-recognition technology is now being incorporated into mall signage wherein the age and gender of passersby are discerned before displaying “demographic appropriate” advertisements to them as they walk by.

NEC, a multinational electronics firm, is experimenting with biometric technology. the ability to scan faces to detect gender and age within a range of 10 years. Not only is the technology being tested in mall signage, but also in vending machinery where “helpful suggestions” will be made to consumers based on their presumed age and gender.

And of course, Japan today means the U.S. tomorrow. In fact, other companies are already testing “gender-aware” technology for outdoor billboards and mall signage here in the United States. Intel has partnered with Microsoft in such an endeavor to design the Intel Intelligent Digital Signage Concept.

Joe Jensen, a manager at Intel’s Embedded Computing Division, sums it up like this: “As stores seek more competitive advantages over online retailers, digital signage has become a valuable technology for dispersing targeted and interactive content to shoppers.”

If gender-aware technology proves to be effective, does this mean that gin & tonics will be now offered to older consumers? At the end of a long day at the office, that could be a tantalizing option for businesspeople hitting Grand Central Station to catch the Long Island Railway home.

Or consider this picture: Legions of “Divine” impersonators (see above) descending upon malls or food kiosks, just to test how well the signage and vending machines can determine true age and gender!

Kidding aside, it’s really no surprise that digital technology with its ability to serve highly targeted, relevant content would eventually work its way into billboards and signage, historically the most “mass” of mass communications. Marketers crave statistical results, and they’re naturally going to gravitate to anything that provides those metrics – no matter how imprecise they might be.