By JULIE BOSMAN
THE Reuters sign and the Nasdaq Tower in Times Square are two of the most valuable advertising spaces in the world.
Now, with a deal to be announced today, advertisers can rent both spaces at once — and create a virtual roadblock on the south side of the square.
It is a partnership that the two companies hope will leverage both ad spaces to stand out even more in a sea of advertising.
Reuters and Nasdaq made the deal late last week, just as advertisers are beginning to roll out more outdoor advertising to take advantage of warmer weather and higher foot traffic.
But Reuters and Nasdaq, whose buildings face each other across Broadway and Seventh Avenue at W. 43rd St., are in a unique position to combine their advertising assets.
Advertisers will have the option of running the same ad on both signs, or even half of the ad on one building and the other half on the other building. Or the two signs could work in tandem. "It just made a lot of sense to put the two together," said Bruce E. Aust, the executive vice president of the corporate client group for Nasdaq. "You're getting two of the most dynamic towers in Times Square." The companies dubbed the deal "Times Square, Squared.
"We're neighbors, we look at each other's buildings all day every day, we got to talking and realized the power of the two together was probably more powerful than the power of them separately," said Walker Jacobs, a vice president and the head of media sales for Reuters, calling the deal a "one-stop shop where buyers can pick up the phone and roadblock Times Square."
"We think it's going to change Times Square advertising," he said, adding that most campaigns involving the signs would be priced in the mid- to high-six figures, with some possibly rising into seven figures, depending on the length and complexity of the campaign.
One thing is for sure: it is the high season for outdoor advertising, when the warm weather causes more pedestrians to flood the sidewalks, cars to fill the roadways and marketers to conjure up ever more provocative ways to grab attention through outdoor spectaculars.
At the center of it is Times Square, arguably the showcase for some of the most gaudy, outrageous and innovative advertising in the world. An ad for Cingular that went up last month, created by BBDO in New York, was on display with a large jagged hole in the center — the missing chunk, meant to signify dropped calls, was deposited visually on the sidewalk below.
Reuters says its sign is the largest digital display system in the world, spanning 22 stories and 7,000 square feet at 3 Times Square. The Nasdaq sign, known as the Nasdaq MarketSite Tower, is seven stories tall and contains 10,000 square feet of signage.
The Reuters sign has been home to experimental interactive advertising in the past. To advertise Yahoo Autos, the interactive agency R/GA created a car-racing game that allowed passersby to dial a toll-free number and race cars on the sign using their cellphone buttons. A campaign for Nike iD, a customized sneaker, let consumers design their own shoes on the sign and later purchase them online.
Still, it is becoming more of a challenge to stand out amid all the clutter. One tactic is the twinning of signs, as Corona did earlier this year when it erected identical signs on 1600 Broadway, a 27-story building at 48th Street in Times Square. The signs, which depict bottles of Corona with lime wedges, face south and measure about 92 feet high by 35 feet wide.
An added benefit for marketers is that experts say Times Square is busier than ever. An article in The New York Times in December carried the headline, "If the Sidewalks Feel Jammed, Well, They Are." Head counters reported that on the morning of Dec. 28, there was a 57 percent increase in congestion from a day a year earlier.
Which is music to the ears of advertising executives who count on foot traffic and eyeballs looking skyward to sell some of the most coveted ad space in the world. Even better, many tourists in Times Square are there for one reason: to gaze at the flashing, blinking extravaganza of advertising.
"With the innovation and what's happened with digital signage, Times Square is essentially a gallery for world-class advertising," Mr. Jacobs of Reuters said. And those tourists traipsing haphazardly down the sidewalks, he said, "are going there for the ads."