While this might hold true for some markets, there's one market that transcends this challenge, New York City, including its five boroughs.
Case in point: approximately 60% of New York outdoor advertising is purchased from advertising agencies, outdoor buying specialists, or clients. The other 40% is placed by agencies and clients outside New York, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas and other advertising centers, in which outdoor advertising is placed for New York. There are plenty of advertisers that would benefit greatly from a local New York-based placement, but are still too concerned to shift their buying strategy. If you are one of those people, here are a few tips to help you get started.
Listen to the locals.
New York outdoor opportunities are very different than those in other urban markets -- even those that rival the city in terms of population and income. Simply put: there's a lot more here to buy. There are more than 3,000 telephone enclosures (9,000 ads on those enclosures), 3,300 bus shelter enclosures, 1,600 urban panels -- the ads you see when you enter a subway -- 4,000 buses, 6,000 taxi cab tops and 600 billboards on the arteries and in Manhattan. There are also 225 spectacular signs, which are located on 7th and Broadway between 42nd to 54th Streets. And each category can be broken down even further.
For example, if you want to buy a telephone enclosure, you'll have to decide between the bigger rear panels or the outside side panels. The rear enclosures may be bigger, but they only get crosswalk eyeballs. Pedestrians notice the outside panels more frequently because they are more visible. Are you scared yet? Don't be. This just punctuates why it's almost a given that anyone new to the market should rely on an agency or an expert for advice. And that person or agency should be someone who handles New York-based outdoor buys everyday -- someone you trust, and someone who actually knows neighborhoods. If you don't seek help, you should visit the market, and ride the outdoor opportunities before you contract. Don't be fooled by photographs.
Consider outdoor as a primary medium. In most cities, you'd plan your print, radio or television campaign first, and throw in a little outdoor advertising for good measure. But New York's target audience doesn't have the same viewing and reading patterns as other top marketplaces. People listen to their iPods or satellite radio while commuting. They watch their TiVos when they get home, and fewer are reading the newspaper or magazines. And yet as New Yorkers move about their day, outdoor advertising is right in their face. It's unmistakable. They can't zap it; they can't avoid it. This is exactly why, as an advertiser, you need to think of outdoor as one of your primary advertising vehicles in New York City.
Own some street furniture. Sometimes, repetition is more important than size. You can often make more of an impact by buying many small ad placements than a handful of larger ones. Personally, if I was going to run a month or two-month campaign, I'd want to reach the minds and hearts of as many people as possible. Which means while it might be splashy to own four or five billboards on one of New York's major arteries; it's probably smarter -- if you can only make one purchase -- to buy some telephones ads. Most people don't do this. They buy 75 or 100 of whatever. And while those are great numbers, that's not ownership. If I was a media buyer and wanted to dominate, I would buy 300 telephones or 150 shelters. I'd buy 50 or 100 showing in subways. I'd own something so everyday when someone looks up, they would see my message. I wouldn't spread out my spend and give a kiss to each medium. I wouldn't take a dollar and give 20 cents to one and 20 cents to another. I'd give 75 percent of that dollar to one medium and own it.
Buy a spectacular -- or two. This isn't for everyone, but if you've got your media plan in place, and you have incremental outdoor dollars to spend, spectaculars are huge. Tthey leave an indelible impression. They can create a perfect envelope around the very important love letter to New Yorkers -- your outdoor buy -- that you've just put together. Robert C. Fauser, President-Eastern Division, Van Wagner Communications, the nation's largest independent outdoor advertising company