Captive Audience: Reaching the Airline Traveler through Digital Displays

April 7, 2016 Joe'N Lloyd

The glamorous days of the golden age of aviation are firmly behind us. Travelers no longer dress up for a trip to the airport, excitedly wondering about the meal or in-flight movie. Rather, it’s more common to see passengers in sweatpants or shorts than a suit and tie. Who wants to be all dressed up when smashed into a too-small seat on a fully packed flight, anyway? But, just because passengers have dropped the ball on the fashion stakes doesn’t mean the businesses that serve them are letting things go. Quite the contrary. The industries associated with travel are constantly upping their games by using digital applications to enhance the in-airport experience.

From adding signage that can better guide passengers to emergency messaging to promoting an airport’s array of bars and restaurants, there are good reasons to put time and effort into improving digital displays. J.D. Power and Associates reports that happy passengers spend an average of 45 percent more than grumpy ones or $20.55 versus $14.12 on airport retail purchases in shops and eateries. For advertisers, airports offer a captive audience of sorts, particularly with passengers who have layovers or are stuck after a flight was delayed. With a large and steady amount of traffic 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are plenty of opportunities to engage with airline travelers.

Advancing technologies in the digital display space are making it easier than ever to reach customers while they are traveling. And these same digital displays give advertisers the freedom and flexibility they have long craved. Typos and errors can be fixed in a nanosecond. Messaging can be swapped out at the click of a mouse. The flexibility and responsiveness in the digital space is liberating for many advertisers, where companies today are able to communicate one-to-many, rather than business-to-business.

Another advantage of playing in the display space for advertisers is the ability to buy remnant media slots. Demand-side platforms let advertisers of all sizes and budgets have a seat at the advertising table. And, the results can be tracked. The inability to truly track and validate results of ad spend has been the bane of many advertisers’ existences for years. They’ve typically been held hostage to what ads a media company says ran. There was no true “proof of play”. But in the digital display space, ad runs can be validated. Proof of play tracking is being built into digital display technology, and this is a huge boost to advertising.

Digital display technology gets more sophisticated by the day in figuring out what a specific customer wants to see. It is now possible to embed artificial intelligence like hyper-targeting and customer sensing (knowing who a person is when he approaches a display) into the display to enhance customer experience.

Digital display signage is expected to surpass traditional signage by 2017. And as more digital signage becomes available, advertising costs for this platform will decline. This is a good thing for advertisers. But, the digital display is only as good as the messaging it is displaying. So, while the display is an incredibly helpful tool in reaching customers, advertisers can back themselves into a corner if they haven’t fully considered the impact they are trying to have through messaging. In a sense, that’s what so exciting about digital displays. The opportunities for messaging are limitless – there is so much that can be done to make messaging via digital relevant and personal to the consumer.

~Joe’ Llloyd
Director of Global Marketing

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