Airport Advertising Effectiveness: An Exploratory Field Study
By Rick T. Wilson and Brian D. Till
"Transit advertising is a growing category of out-of-home advertising and an area that has received little academic attention. This study keys in to elements of effective airport advertising and is applicable to other transit locations."
Source: Journal of Advertising, Spring 2008, 37(1), pgs 59-72.
Type of Promotional Material/Activity Tested: Effectiveness of airport advertising
Sample Population: Randomly selected airline passengers at NYC’s LaGuardia Airport in May 2005. There were 50 participants in the recognition study and 58 participants in the recall study. More participants were female than male. Ages ranged from 18-55 with the largest age group being 35-54. All participants had flown out of LaGuardia at least once in the past month. More were flying for leisure than for business.
Recognition survey: an 11-page survey included with a booklet of color photographs of the 28 concourse advertisements, as well as 7 filler ads to test for false positives.
Recall survey: a four-page questionnaire that asked participants to list any ads they remembered seeing inside the concourse (unaided recall). Later in the questionnaire, participants were asked to do the same but this time but were given 13 product categories to help prompt their memory (aided recall).
Metrics: Participants’ ability to recognize and recall the advertisements in the airport’s concourse.
- Airport ads
- Passenger demographics
- Passenger activity
- Frequency of travel
- Time spent in terminal
- Observation and memory of airport advertisement
Top Line Results:
- Passengers, on average, recognized about 4.4 ads. The overall recognition of all ads (excluding fillers) was over 16%
Participants who had flown two or more times in the past month, thus spending more time on the concourse, recognized almost twice as many advertisements as those who had flown fewer times.
- Advertisements placed in the corridor of the concourse were noticed more frequently than those near security or at the gate. The mean percent recognition in the corridor was 21%, near security was 14%, while at the gate was 9.6% recognition.
Advertisements located near retail outlets were also more recognizable at 20.6% compared to ads not near a retail store at 12.5%.
- Advertisements with multiple appearances in the concourse were noticed more than twice as often (28.6%) versus ads appearing only once (13.6%).
Brand name recall (aided and unaided) was low. Overall, unaided brand recall was 1.3% and overall aided recall was nearly 2%.
- Unlike recognition, overall recall was not closely related to time spent in the terminal, frequency of travel, or the location of the advertisements. However there were elements of ads that were significantly related to increased recall: uniquely sized ads, nonstandard shape ads (e.g., double diorama, ad wrapped around a desk), and ads with fewer words (12 or less) were more memorable.
- Ads including an airport/destination-related theme (such as the image of an airplane) or referring to an airport activity (Verizon Wireless ad -- “Making Your Connection has Never Been Easier”) aided in the recall of the advertisement.
Transit advertising is a growing category of out-of-home advertising and an area that has received little academic attention. This study keys in to elements of effective airport advertising (and is applicable to other transit locations):
Placement of ads: location, location, location.
Recognizing the effect of passenger activity on the ability to process an ad; Passengers coming out of security or boarding their plane are focused on that activity and less likely to notice ads than passengers visiting airport retail outlets.
Repetition of ads increases consumer recognition of a brand and/or ad.
- Uniquely sized and shaped ads are most memorable, as are ads with fewer words.
Complexity rating: 2 out of 3 (Complex statistical analysis scale: 1= none, 2= moderate, 3 = difficult)
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