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An analysis of the creative use of digital/ LED advertising in HK

Team members

  • Nicholas Zeolla
  • Callum Martin
  • Edvin Rekel
  • Joe Charsley-Smith

Overview: What the idea is and why we chose it

  • A comparison between MTR versus Skyline
  • Digital advertising trends over time & cultural impact
  • Infrastructure and Coordination / Light pollution

Digital displays and installations are a significant part of Hong Kong infrastructure. Such displays dominate the skyline and are considered an iconic representation of the city itself. They serve purposes from advertising and promotion, to disseminating information to the public. They are often gargantuan in size yet still competing for our attention in a city saturated with such displays.

Other Research ideas/ out of scope activities

  • Billboards - public service use versus advertising use

What we did

Statistical analysis

Implication & conclusions


Map of stations


Statement Mean
Subway ads. with creative ideas attract my attention 4.5
Subway ads. with vivid colors attract my attention 4.3
I like to pay attention to subway ads. 3.8
Subway ads. give me information about things in fashion. 3.8
There are too many subway ads. and they make people confused 3.6

1= strongly disagree; 6= strongly agree [1]

Small screens (MTR)

Why subway ads? In Hong Kong, subway advertisements are clustered and compete forcefully for attention. Distraction comes from other activities such as checking email on the mobile phone, listening to music, or watching video on mobile devices. This suggests that the effectiveness of subway advertising in an urban setting will be different from that of outdoor advertising in the billboard setting. In addition, the impact of demographic aspects and frequency of travelling reflects on advert's performance for the business.


Subway advertising and transit system advertising increase awareness when consumers are near the point of purchase or on the way to it. Also, since many urban commuters ride the train every day, they have plenty of opportunities to view a particular ad in a given period of time. More views makes advertising more effective, in most cases.
Many repeating pictures = Better awareness -> More views -> High efficiency


Subway advertising may not be suitable for certain types of campaigns, such as lead generation or time-sensitive CTA strategies but it's one of the best and most cost effective.
Adequate price per CPM (cost per impression)

No limitations

While TV ads or ads on internet can be skipped (change channel, adblock), subway ads are inevitable.

Different formats:

  1. Platform displays
  2. Interactive display
  3. Station domination


  • Consumer Goods
  • Healthcare
  • Entertainment and Media
  • Retail
  • Financial Services
  • Travel

Big Billboards (SKYLINE)

Why Billboards? Billboards enhance the brand value of your business when installed in strategic locations such as crowded streets and busy highway routes. Enormous and catchy, billboards often immediately catch the interest of the bypasser. Placing company name and brand image on a board that’s constantly visible 24 hours a day gradually establishes a connection with the viewer. Maintenance is very easy, as you only have to deal with the initial installation process. Once it get past that the billboards do not require any further monitoring. [2]


H.K. Neon signs of 80/90’s, switch to LED technology Decline of Neon sign Reasons for the large number of electronic advertisements in H.K, and effect on inhabitants; (consumerism, effectiveness, eye catching designs)

Light pollution? Controversies, issues


(get a pic of the weather board)

PUBLIC SERVICE: Weathers forecast/ time updates alternating with advertisements - draws the person in with weather and then presents them with an ad News/ Stocks and Shares in the restaurant Ferry terminals had info on ferries

In the (Dim Sum?) restaurant, the TV screens inside the restaurant were used to present content in an alternating format of news/ adverts


Back-end Infrastructure Little information is available about the protocols in place for the management and synchronisation of the large scale digital displays. For instance, at 8:00 pm every night the famous light show takes place, illuminating the harbour with a show of extravagance. This involves several skyscrapers executing light shows in tandem - it follows that there must be some level of coordination and interfacing between systems. It also follows that there must be a method of directly interfacing with these screens themselves to adjust their displays, to appropriately scale images and so on. For smaller displays, found in public transport hubs, the methods for doing so are well established. I am interested in any established standards and regulations - something like an RFC for such displays. A city which has such a vast number of displays must surely be subject to a degree of regulatory oversight.

Displays and Advertising Installations in general are subject to regulations from several gubernatorial stakeholders ; The buildings department, The aviation department, the Electrical & Mechanical services department, the marine and parks authority.