Drone-based Advertising Raises New Scenic Concerns

A Candy Crush display dominates the New York City skyline. Photo: New York Daily News/Gardiner Thomas

Advertisers looking for new ways to catch consumers’ attention are turning to the skies, using elaborate drone displays to deliver their messages. This emerging form of advertising introduces fresh concerns about safety and the impact of such intrusions on the scenic beauty of our skies.

According to an article that appeared last month on SmartCitiesDive.com, there are nearly 900,000 drones registered in the U.S., and the number is expected to reach 2.3 million by 2024. The article also suggests that drone-based advertising will grow as drones become more commonplace. One advertising company, Capitol Outdoor, is now targeting ten major cities for regular drone shows.

Concerns about drone-based advertising heightened in early November when the popular mobile phone game, Candy Crush, celebrated its tenth anniversary with a massive drone display overpowering the New York City skyline.

A New York Daily News opinion piece decried the display, noting, “We know that exactly no one comes to New York expecting to see the constellations shine… But with full-motion ads now ubiquitous — on subway entrances, Wi-Fi kiosks, taxi roof ads and more…there’s a fine line between a lively metropolis and a relentless, stress-inducing assault on the senses.”

If this form of advertising proves popular, communities may soon be faced with the opportunity to ban or restrict such displays to protect the safety of their residents and the scenic qualities of their skies.

“Just as we support communities that want to implement restrictions on digital billboards, we urge community leaders to seriously consider the potential negative impacts of drone advertising,” said Scenic America President Mark Falzone.

Scenic America will continue to monitor the impacts of this form of advertising and stands ready to assist communities to protect their scenic qualities– including the beauty of their skies.