Not all of the messages encountered on Times Square are political or weighty. Every day, the estimated 380,000 to 450,000 people that walk through the area are bombarded with advertising. You can double those figures for the number of eyeballs that corporations are vying for.
It has provoked an arms of race of advertising that has escalated over the years. Billboards, neon colors, bright lights and scrolling text is no longer enough. Nowadays, large digital billboards make up more than a fifth of all the displays in Times Square.
And this competition for attention comes at a steep price. Advertisers can expect to pay between $1.1 and $4 million annually to claim their space. For the largest billboard on Times Square, the monthly fee can go as high as $3 million.
I wonder, though, with so many glamorous images to look at if very little actually gets seen at all. Does it all cancel each other out after a while? Does it just become background lighting effects like at a rock concert or amusement park?
Was that the idea of having this interesting looking fellow with the tattoos and dreads piled high walk around the streets with the attorney advertising on the back of his T shirt? There is an attention-getting novelty to this grass roots and old school form of advertising. It’s like the fascination of receiving and reading a handwritten letter over an email or text. While the titans of commerce battle it out in the expensive digital heavens above, there is still an affordable space on the ground for smaller businesses to make themselves known.
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