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MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Last modified on January 24, 2017

In plain sight

On-site advertising can entertain, delight and intrigue passengers and deliver airports extra revenue, writes Steve Cox, marketing director at JCDecaux Airport.

Mention ‘advertising’ to most people and they’ll understandably assume you’re talking about the actual adverts themselves and the talented people responsible for creating them. 

And most of us will have strongly held views about what we believe makes a good newspaper ad, billboard or TV commercial and we’ll debate this with friends and colleagues and express vigorous opinions about what works and what doesn’t. 

But there’s another side to the process that’s far less well known, but arguably equally important if advertising campaigns are to effectively change consumers’ perceptions and ultimately sell more products. I’m talking here about the world of media placement.

Working alongside the creative agencies are a multitude of media agencies and sales companies planning and buying media ‘space’ to ensure that the right ads appear at the right place at the right time. 

That’s our world. We try to persuade advertisers and their media agencies that advertising at the airport will be the most cost-effective place to convey their advertising message – whatever that might be. 

We need to persuade them of four things – their target market will be present at the airport; they will be in a receptive frame of mind to engage with the brand message; we offer a very visible range of panels and screens on which this message might be displayed; and all of this can be achieved at a reasonable price. 

The challenge, of course, is that a whole range of competitive sales companies representing other platforms are also presenting similar arguments for their own media.

So what can advertisers expect from an airport ad campaign that they might not achieve elsewhere? Let’s address some of those points from the preceding paragraph. First of all they’re able to present their message to air travellers – a uniquely affluent, exclusive and influential set of individuals difficult to reach with most other media. 

Secondly, most passengers are highly receptive and attentive when at the airport where, typically they have time to kill and are looking for a distraction in an exciting environment. Indeed, the architect of Heathrow’s Terminal 2 recently described terminal buildings as being “the cathedrals of the 21st Century”. 

And finally they’re surrounded by a ‘creative canvas’ of massive illuminated iconic media spaces, and state-of-the-art digital screens displaying HD moving images. The ‘Towers @T5’ are a fantastic example of one of these unique opportunities. 

It’s hard to imagine a more powerful environment in which to advertise an appropriate brand – small wonder we refer to the airport as offering advertisers a ‘world of possibilities’.

But it’s not just the airport advertiser who benefits. Most of the money spent by advertisers in purchasing these outstanding media opportunities is returned to the airport to help fund maintenance, expansion and development, ensuring that the airport of tomorrow will be better than the airport of today. 

Plus, of course, the advertising itself has the power to intrigue and entertain the passenger, improving the whole air travel experience. 

There’s no doubt that passengers feel the airport environment is enhanced by the presence of advertising. They welcome the fact that it’s there, not something consumers are often inclined to say about ads in most media!

And the good news is that this advertising will only get more engaging. In fact, increasingly we’re using data regarding airport passengers to deliver more tailored, more personally relevant messages. 

Already the likes of British Airways and Heathrow Express have used digital screens on baggage carousels to display messages in the language of the country from which the plane has just arrived, or which reflect the weather outside, or the current traffic conditions for onward travel.

So the next time you’re passing through one of these ‘21st Century cathedrals’ by all means enjoy the fabulous advertising artwork on display, but spare a thought for all the planning, science and thought that’s helped get it there in the first place!

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