At midnight on Dec. 31, when New Year's Eve revelers tune in to watch the ball drop on top of One Times Square in New York, they'll also have their eyes trained on some of the most-expensive outdoor advertising in the world.
According to a Wall Street Journal report published Tuesday as part of its real-estate coverage, Dunkin' Donuts pays $3.6 million a year for its One Times Square digital sign, which among other things displays photos submitted by its Facebook fans. Brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev pays $3.4 million a year, the paper said, for a sign on One Times Square that shows cold bottles of Budweiser and other brands. Journal parent Dow Jones also rents a sign on the building, whose recent refinancing produced the documents underlying the report, for $1.1 million per year. (Read The Journal's full article about signage on One Times Square here.)
Adland execs say that Times Square commands the highest prices for billboards in the world, but marketers are still paying up -- eager to take advantage of both the heavy foot traffic in the area and the high-profile visibility offered by ABC's annual special "New Year's Rockin Eve," which is watched by millions. The price tag seems to be ticking higher. In 2005 Ad Age reported that an average cost for a billboard at One or Two Times Square would begin at $200,000 per month ($2.4 million a year). It's worth noting that that 's just the price to buy the media; it doesn't include the ever-increasing cost to create custom digital signage that 's weatherproof, which can cost several million in and of itself.
Compare that to a Super Bowl spot, which is running around $3.7 million to $3.8 million for a package involving 30 seconds of ad time in the upcoming game.
Billboards in Times Square attract millions of eyeballs from tourists and New Yorkers alike. Add to that the fact that ABC enjoyed some of its best ratings for the New Year's Eve broadcast from Times Square last year, when the ball drop attracted an average 22 .6 million viewers. The upcoming special will be the first in 40 years not to have have Dick Clark as its host. He died in April at the age of 82.
Ryan Seacrest -- who recently added a marketing-services agency to his own budding media-and-marketing empire -- will host the ABC show and do the official countdown at midnight, joined by the likes of Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen.