NJ billboards: The ad business that may never die
A billboard along the New Jersey Turnpike, near exit 13A, attracts the attention of more than 1.1 million people per week.
That's not how many cars pass by over a seven-day period. That's how many pairs of eyes hit that billboard on a weekly basis, according to tracking efforts employed by Lamar Advertising, which handles more than 200 New Jersey billboards just through their New York City-New Jersey office.
A handful of companies — their names are typically plastered below each billboard — handle this type of advertising that we likely absorb a dozen or more times on the way to and from work.
The billboard business is all about the numbers. Headed into Staten Island, a billboard along Rt. 440 gathers just 279,000 "impressions" per week. So clients will pay less than they would for a spot on the Turnpike to get their message across to drivers taking the Outerbridge Crossing.
Billboards sold by Lamar's northern office take up real estate along 30 to 40 New Jersey roads. Another office handles the southern portion of the state. Billboard companies lease the land where their structures stand.
"We're 80 percent local business and 20 percent national," said Chris Cockerill, general manager of the NYC-NJ office.
According to Cockerill, the billboard business isn't as sensitive to the economy's ups and downs as other advertising avenues.
When the real estate market took a dip last decade, he said, home sales-related advertising dropped. But other businesses, such as restaurants, picked up the slack.
"Restaurants are really good for us, fast food," he said. "We get a lot from lawyers, we get a lot from banking and financial institutions, and healthcare."
Because of a mass influx of seasonal tourists and beach-goers, billboards on roads in Monmouth and Ocean counties are in very high demand this time of year, according to Joe Antal, the general manager of New Jersey business for Outfront Media.
Outfront has coverage throughout the state, with the majority of their inventory in the area of Ocean County and northward.
"Supply and demand, as well as seasonality and other factors, all go into how expensive an ad campaign can run," Antal said.