APN Outdoor and Auckland Council are taking the first step towards transforming Auckland's CBD into the Times Square of the South Pacific, unveiling the first of six digital billboards to be placed across the city.
The LED signage launched today (with the help of a comically large Big Red Button) is located across the road from Aotea Square. Although it was competing for attention with a kids movie promotion, an ice rink and a Falun Gong meditation meeting – the billboard was bright and hard to miss.
Currently there are five advertisers which have bought eight-second timeslots, including Coca Cola (which has two slots), Instant Kiwi, Holden, BMW and Freeview.
Officiating the launch, mayor Len Brown says APN's "uber cutting edge" billboard will give the city centre an international atmosphere akin to Times Square in New York.
APN Outdoor New Zealand general manager Phil Clemas says the billboard on Queen Street is the first of six in the CBD which will be up and running before Christmas. The consents process for the other five is well advanced, he adds.
These billboards come amidst a bump in outdoor advertising following a slow 2012, which was heavily affected by the post-Rugby World Cup advertising downturn. Outdoor advertising in the first quarter of this year was up by 16 percent from last year, hitting $15.4 million according to the Outdoor Media Association of New Zealand (OMANZ).
The signage is restricted by the Auckland Council from displaying video content as it could distract drivers and be considered a hazard. Asked if APN Outdoor will push the matter in order to make the ad positions more attractive to brands, Clemas says "never say never".