Google display ads dominate Boston South Station

I’ve been working in digital marketing for over a dozen years. Sometimes, though, when talking to others in digital marketing you would think that traditional marketing channels, such as print, billboards, radio, TV, direct mail, etc., are now worthless

Some say they don’t produce immediate leads or sales and the ROI from multi-channel marketing is difficult to measure. 

However, just because it’s not as easy to attribute sales to these traditional channels doesn’t mean they are useless. Google, for example, has rolled out a tool to help with attribution modeling, its Universal Analytics, which recently was opened to anyone.

And for years Google has been proving by example that it believes in traditional marketing channels.

It has delivered some very moving TV commercials. And recently it took over Boston’s South Station for a month with a “station domination” billboard strategy, buying up every available square inch to promote its Google apps.

Google display ads dominate Boston South StationThe billboards tout the 5m companies that Google says are now using Google apps, including some large ones: “Virgin America has gone Google. A breath of fresh airline.” and “Costco has gone Google”, etc.

Over 110,000 people move through South Station daily, and a one month buy-out of the billboards can cost $100,000. Since commuter rail is more expensive than bus or subway, the average income and decision-making power of people moving through the station is likely to be higher than at a typical T station.

The station has 70 static faces and a couple digital screens. Other companies that have done “station domination” billboard campaigns include Apple, Samsung, JetBlue, New Balance and the Mohegan Sun casino.

Of course, Google isn’t releasing any results from this campaign. But the fact that even it recognizes that traditional brand building and awareness programs can be a good supplement to digital is telling.

Louis Gudema

Published 3 May, 2013 by Louis Gudema

Louis Gudema is the president of revenue + associates and a contributor to Econsultancy. Louis blogs here and can be reached via TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn.

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Comments (4)

Dave Wieneke

Dave Wieneke, Director of Digital Strategy Practice at Connective DX

This is a great point -- people experience everything in the real world.

And the most credible experiences align with audiences not channels. So shifting between digital and the physical world makes sense, because that's just how life is.


over 5 years ago



so very true - current tools should not replace the old (but still useful) ones - rather it should be complemented.

over 5 years ago

Dominic Byrne

Dominic Byrne, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at DigiToro

Louis, I couldn’t agree more, digital and traditional have to be ‘de-siloed’ and talked about as marketing. Touchpoints are just as effective across new and old school media. It’s all about coming up with the appropriate mix for your segmented audience. Dom

over 5 years ago

Gemma Holloway

Gemma Holloway, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

Very True! Google's introduction of Universal Analytics highlights that they place importance in offline as well and online. Just because of the growth of the digital industry, it doesn't mean that other traditional marketing channels should be forgotten. A sound marketing strategy should incorporate both online and offline techniques.

over 5 years ago

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