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The Digital Airport: Targeting Travelers On Mobile

There is good reason why Zappos ads can be found staring at you from within the airport security bins or why Geico displayed ads in airport bathrooms last year. Everything from in-flight videos to tray tables have been plastered with ads because brands are willing to go to great lengths to reach travelers, a lucrative demographic for advertisers. 

While in-airport and in-flight ads in creative places are one way to reach travelers, the eyes of airport dwellers are actually pointed down. Step foot in any airport around the world, and you’ll see thousands of travelers feverishly using their mobile devices to kill time -- which is great news for brands.

Mobile devices are an extension of the consumer, and with one out of every ten online dollars spent on a mobile device,  travelers are the perfect target for mobile advertising. Strategic brands capitalize on this consumer behavior because they know mobile ads are an effective way to get the message across.   

Here are three insights about the travel demographic that every brand should keep in mind when developing a strategic, mobile advertising plan:

Travelers Are Mobile Savvy

A newly released study commissioned by Expedia Media Solutions and conducted by comScore reveals that travelers are confident mobile shoppers, frequently turning to mobile devices for travel planning -- whether looking for inspiration, planning an existing trip or booking a last-minute getaway. According to the study, 44% of travelers use a tablet or smartphone to plan their trip, while 48% use a mobile device to dream of or conduct research for their next trip.  It also showed that of those who have booked travel on a mobile device, 80% of smartphone users and 90% of tablet users would do so again. What does this mean for marketers?

Travelers Are Planning, Purchasing On The Go

Travelers are spending more time actively engaged on mobile devices in public places, i.e. the airport, and are increasingly more comfortable making purchases on a mobile device. With an increase in mobile buying, advertisers should deliver geo-targeted and relevant mobile ads to the on-the-go traveler.  Per comScore, a full one-third of travel planning that occurs on mobile devices happens while travelers are on the go -- nearly 30% of travelers used a mobile device to check flight schedules or prices, while close to 25% of travelers used a mobile device to read hotel reviews, compare hotel prices or check hotel availability. That creates a perfect opportunity for brands.

Travelers Need More Than Just Luggage and Flight Schedules

Instead of broadly advertising in airport security bins, bathroom stalls or terminal seating areas, brands should be more strategic in their approach.  A retail chain can get the message out about a cold-weather sale to a traveler in Wisconsin in January, or for travelers checking the status of their flight in the security line, why not advertise the restaurants in the terminal?  For travelers booking a hotel room or making online dinner reservations, advertising local attractions makes sense. With the right targeting capabilities, there are endless opportunities in the digital airport.

The airport is not just an ad-saturated building any more. It’s a digital hotspot where one of the most lucrative and mobile savvy demographics spends hours connected to and focused on their mobile devices. Smart brands are implementing targeted and strategic mobile campaigns and effectively reaching these on the go consumers.

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1 comment about "The Digital Airport: Targeting Travelers On Mobile".
  1. Mike Bloxham from Frank N. Magid Associates , January 2, 2013 at 1:04 p.m.
    Nice piece. It's probably also worth mentioning the prevalence of Tablets at airports as they bring their own user experience to the space that can be leveraged by brands in creative ways. In a recent analysis of USA TouchPoints data we found that Tablet users were 60% more likely to be at an airport than adults from the general population (18-64). One hypothesis would suggest this is linked to the demographics of both Tablet ownership and business travel, but as Tablet ownership broadens across the population this is less likely to be the case.