Download our
media kit
< Back

The psychology of elevator advertising: 6 things for marketers to know

More and more brands are unlocking the power of elevator advertising. Find out why.

March 23, 2020

Elevators have become a unique part of North American work and apartment culture since the Otis Elevator Company began manufacturing passenger elevators for use in American buildings in 1857. Fast forward today, we think you’d be surprised at how thoroughly they influence our society. Here’s just quick overview of the scale of the impact they have on our day-to-day lives:


Even though elevators have become an essential tool in our cities, the practice of advertising in elevators is a relatively new one and elevator screens are even newer.  In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the unique social circumstances that make elevator advertising a compelling medium in 2020 and beyond.

  1. Elevator screens capture attention by relieving the social awkwardness of elevators

    We’ve all been there. The uncomfortable eye contact, the little dance of who presses the button, the awkward conversation with people you only vaguely know.  Elevators can be uncomfortable social places, so having a central point of focus is seen as a welcome option for many riders.

    “When gentlemen were still expected to take off their hats in a woman’s presence, people couldn’t figure out whether an elevator counted as a room, and thus whether hats were expected to be doffed. Now, we just worry about avoiding eye contact. - Fast Company

    Combined with the fact that elevator screens like ours include helpful information such as weather, sports updates, breaking news, and building notices, screens have become a habitual source of information for most riders.

    1. It’s the first out-of-home advertising opportunity when people leave home

      Those who work in consumer product marketing know the importance of a well-placed message to motivate immediate behaviour. From putting up billboards for a free coffee a block away from the store, to rush hour radio ads, connecting with customers on their way to work has always been an important practice in marketing.  Elevator advertising gives brands the opportunity to connect with potential customers right outside their door. It’s the closest thing you can get to advertising in their home, while still being in the physical world.

      The average elevator rider takes 4 trips in an elevator daily. Think about what messages you’d like your audience to see when they first leave their homes.

      1. And it’s the last OOH advertising opportunity before they turn in for the day

        If you live in an apartment tower, you’re almost always going to be taking the elevator to return home. This is the final mode of transportation before you arrive home, and this final journey is characterized by a unique mental state:

        • Riders are starting to relax, 
        • they’re thinking about what they are going to have for dinner or what their evening plans are, 
        • they are tired from the day and are looking for a positive experience. 

        It’s a sensitive time, and given that the feeling of “home” starts the moment they enter the apartment doors, marketers have a unique opportunity to connect with audiences at a highly suggestible time.

        1. Useful daily content gives elevator screens a habitual place in resident’s lives.

          Marketing channels that align with consumer habits are extremely valuable because they can guarantee repeat engagement. Elevator screens quickly become a useful part of many resident’s lives because they display:

          • Building notices from the property managers 
          • Daily news updates from sources like CBC, Daily Hive, and other media companies
          • Weather updates for the day
          • Public health messages regarding the COVID-19 crisis and more

          Advertising alignment with useful and desirable content is key to ensuring a positive brand experience and a good overall experience for the resident.

          1. Average ride time Is 118 seconds. That’s a long attention time for advertising exposure.

            118 seconds is the length of the average elevator ride in New York City. While other cities will vary in their average ride time, elevators create the conditions for a long attention time for advertising exposure. 

            Why is attention time important? Because so often ad impressions are sold that have no physical way of reaching your given audience. Here are the most common ways some vendors sell low-quality, low-attention time impressions to clients:

            • Online banner ads are rendered outside the viewing window of the reader. 
            • Billboard impression numbers are estimated on regional population and traffic numbers, rather than actual humans counted like our screens.
            • Exposure to street signage is usually estimated in the seconds, rather than minutes
            • TV impressions are often based on general sampling models and TV viewership is extremely demographically biased based on the network.
            • Magazine impressions are based on arbitrary “pass-along reader” numbers and never provide any real numbers on how long or if someone sees your ads

            So next time you review your ad buys, consider how much of the potential ad audience actually has the chance to see your ad for a significant amount of time.

            1. Elevators may be over 100 years old, but digital screens are a brand new medium.

              Elevator screens in Canada got their start in the 90s, but only in a very small segment of commercial buildings in Toronto. Today, Vertical City’s screen network has grown to cover residential buildings and commercial buildings in cities across Canada. The introduction to screens in residential buildings is a very recent occurrence, which means that most residents haven’t become accustomed to them.  This new medium is your chance to connect with Canada's urban population in a new medium.

              To learn more about how the elevator medium can enhance your next campaign,

              Start planning a smarter campaign today.