Advertising in airports is not only lucrative but also very effective. Posterscope South Africa managing director Craig Page-Lee explains why and looks at what is being done to improve this.
Those behind airport media have clearly understood the relevance and exploited the benefits presented by out of home (OOH) advertising today.
They have tapped into the multitude of format types and touchpoints available in this environment, ensuring it is an “always on” medium for advertisers to connect with consumers. Globally, it continually evolves to satisfy client demand and embraces the constantly evolving world of technology to provide a fully interactive brand experience for travellers.
Why, you may ask? Well, the airport environment provides a captive audience and multiple opportunities for advertising messages to be seen. For a long time, airport advertising has been viewed as aspirational, delivering a desirable audience in an environment that in most instances is outstanding. Global investigations demonstrate that the majority of airport media product portfolios are being developed to enable clients to target their audience accurately along their entire journey, from landside to airside, from pre-check in to arrival at their final destination.
Airport audiences are susceptible to different types of communication, depending on where they are in their journey. As such, we must understand when and where the audience is best placed to process different messages. Also, we need to know what media formats and elements are most suitable for the delivery of these messages.
If the point of media consumption is not consistent with the audience’s mindset, there is a risk that the message will be wasted. Also, if the media formats and elements are ineffective, poorly placed, too large or too small, the advertiser’s investment is wasted and the entire media platform loses relevance.
Having a deep understanding of the travellers’ journey and airport process is essential to delivering an effective strategy for brands wanting to capitalise on this premium platform.
It allows advertisers the opportunity to provide the right message to travellers at the right time, in the right place within the airport process and throughout the different stages of the airport journey.
The traveller’s journey is a dynamic and “arousing” experience where all passengers are in specific “aroused” receptive states at different times in the airport process, according to a key global Airport Ethnographic Research study undertaken by JCDecaux.
This research tells us that higher arousal leads to higher advertising awareness, which is delivered in the form of short messages. It maintains that lower arousal leads to “learning”, which is delivered in the form of more complex messages.
Creative agencies need to demonstrate an understanding of the traveller’s journey by delivering suitable creative and relevant messages on appropriate formats throughout the journey. In this way, campaign effectiveness is enhanced, message delivery is maximised and the advertiser’s spend is optimised.
Key points for consideration when buying airport media and working with creative agencies in the delivery of airport-based campaigns are:
- Passengers follow a predefined journey;
- They are exposed to mandatory areas to complete the process;
- Media messages are an important part of the airport environment and experience and can be in the form of information, content or advertising;
- Consumers experience fluctuating emotions and states of mind while travelling;
- Attention is actively directed to advertising when in an alert and data-receptive state;
- Advertising and the airport process work closely together;
- The airport environment offers a platform for advertisers to present their messages at strategic places in the travelling process;
- If well considered, advertising can be seen as a natural part of the environment, enhancing the traveller’s experience;
- Airports demand appropriate advertising; and
- Advertising platforms enable aspirational messages and entertainment to be delivered during a journey.
Advertisers are increasingly demanding media solutions that have demonstrable value to their businesses. It is the airport operator’s responsibility to ensure that a value-based offering is in place.
When airport media owners develop their platforms against certain key pillars, out of home media agencies can plan and buy across relevant parts of the journey. If creative agencies develop purposeful and relevant campaigns for the respective environments, advertisers will achieve the desired results from airports. When this is achieved, commercial value is also created for both the airport operator and the media vendor.
In line with other media, airport advertising has evolved in the last decade. However, the most dramatic changes have taken place more recently. The four main factors driving the transformation are:
- Architectural differences in the design of new and renovated airports;
- The change in how advertisers are planning and buying media (driven by clients, not media owners);
- The change in passenger behaviour; and
- Innovation and new technology.
Global best practice also shows us media owners structure their platforms against the five pillars of relevance:
- Departures lounge; and
- Arrivals/baggage reclaim.
The days of airports being an advertising directory for just business-to-business and corporate brands are long gone. Media platforms that encourage the promotion of new launches and digital screens that allow time-specific messages are the norm these days. The biggest change in how brands are advertising in airports is the length of their booking.
Historically, airports used to be a long-term medium. This is no longer the case with a shift in emphasis from annual contracts to short-term bookings. This is definitely evident within South Africa and it requires the media in our airports to be flexible to take these changes into account. Proof, if ever it were needed, is that any future media platform development plan should be based around flexibility and a ‘less is more’ approach. This will deliver less clutter, greater stand out (visual and value) for advertisers, fewer types of elements, commonality of sizes and interconnected digital networks. All of this enables media and advertising platforms to be planned and bought as easily as possible.
The South African airport media landscape appears fragmented and cluttered due to the large number of media owners represented in this environment. It therefore comes across as an over-traded platform. Following global best practice, continuous environmental improvements and infrastructural investment by airport operators and media concession holders will go a long way to reinstating the value of this platform in the local OOH industry.
A key caution, however, is to ensure that efforts to enhance the media platform and reinstate the intrinsic value of the airport environment for advertisers, through the implementation of a new media concession model, are not undone by unrealistic expectations of above-average increases and over-inflated minimum guarantees imposed on media owners.
Posterscope and PSI Consulting UK recently conducted an in-depth analysis of airport media in South Africa, reviewing a number of key factors, including an overview of airport media concession structures, airport media spend analysis, an industry-wide research module on the perception of the medium and recommendations in relation to global best practice.