Current Trends of Airport Advertising

My latest trip to the Chicago O’Hare airport made me feel like I was an extra in Tom Cruise’s science fiction thriller, Minority Report.  In the movie if you recall, when Tom Cruise’s character stepped into the Gap, the in-store signage automatically scanned his eyes for identification and delivered on-the-spot targeted messages based on his previous purchases.  Walking by billboards, he was bombarded by personalized messages that seemed to follow him wherever he went.

My own “Minority Report” moment wasn’t quite so extreme.  I didn’t have ads speaking to me but as I was walking to my terminal at Chicago O’Hare earlier this month, the digital display ads did seem to be following me around.  Or rather, they seemed to have popped up all over the place!

Chicago O'Hare Advertising

Chicago O'Hare AdvertisingAnother one in the actual terminal:

Chicago O'Hare Advertising

I don’t know how I could’ve missed them before!  Digging a little deeper, I learned that Clear Channel Airports was awarded a 5 year contract late last year to provide indoor digital media program at O’Hare with nearly 400 devices, located throughout the airport.  According to Clear Channel Airports, the digital media program will reach over 66 million travellers in Chicago annually and could attract as much as $25 million advertising dollars to the city.

The program includes:

  • The first ever 360 degree digital globe located in Terminal 3
  • 2 digital soffits comprising of a total of 60 LCD screens equalling 412 square feet of digital display surface
  • Full network of digital directories providing information on restaurants, entertainment, hotel information etc.
  • Digital tablets available for use within sponsored work stations

For national brands, airport advertising (especially in an airport as big and busy as O’Hare) could be a worthwhile investment if reach and volume is a top goal.  Clear Channel Airports also says that 73% of frequent flyers take the time to read airport advertising messages.  I can see frequent business flyers or travellers stuck in the airport for extended period of time seeing the ads often enough to have the messages stick. But mostly, the ads are a backdrop to the bustle of activity from travellers.  That is why I also appreciate the different tactics big brands are employing to catch your attention – sponsoring charging stations for your mobile devices, work stations with tablets that are pre-programmed with messages, bathroom mirror advertising – all ways to make you notice and located where they know you will be!

Here is a digital sign I saw in the Jacksonville airport:

Jacksonville Airport Advertising

Jacksonville Airport Advertising

Seems like most major airports have gone digital in one way or another with their advertising!  When you have these fresh tactics though, eventually they become old so I am really looking forward to seeing what else advertisers come up with!  Perhaps the personalized billboards in Minority Report are closer to reality than we think!

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