Will DGCA increasing flights finally give wings to airport branding?

The increase in flights is expected to bring more opportunities for brands to advertise on airport sites, thus speeding OOH sector's revival post the pandemic

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Nov 10, 2020 11:24 AM
airport branding post lockdown

The new winter timetable for domestic flights will allow airlines to operate at 56% of their pre-COVID-19 levels. This new timetable issued by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) came in force on November 1 2020 and will run till March 21, 2021 allowing a total of 12,983 flights to operate from 95 airports in the nation. Back in May, when air travel first resumed after the lockdown, the DGCA had allowed airlines to operate at 33% of their pre-COVID-19 levels. This increase in flights will surely bring more opportunities for brands to advertise on airport sites, thus speeding OOH sector's revival post the pandemic.

Airport advertising post lockdown has offered brands with innovative inventories in view of the Covid safety norms. Time on the runway has also leading to more branding activities, and a higher brand recall rate. The increase in the number of flights will allow OOH players with airport inventories to lure in more brands as it has mass visibility. And Times OOH, a prominent AOOH player, is already witnesing increased interest from brands with prominent clients like Netflix, Renault, Mankind Pharma, Gujarat Tourism and MX Player coming on board.

e4m spoke to AOOH players about how the announcement of DGCA has restored faith in brands and the increase in demand for airport branding activities since the unlock.

DGCA’s announcement and festive Season

According to Aman Nanda, Chief Strategy Officer, Times OOH, the move to increase domestic flights indicates an uptick in demand for air travel.

Flights are being considered a safer mode of travel post-lockdown, and people are getting more and more comfortable with the idea of flying. “Surveys conducted by airlines and airports divulge that passengers are happy with the safety measures undertaken and are even ready to fly twice a month (as per ‘Restart Feedback Survey’ by CSMIA, a Vistara passenger survey, and more). This is also reflected in the passenger traffic data shared by airport authorities - showcasing a jump in traffic over the last month. This could be due to the ongoing festive season, considering that travel booking websites observed a surge in advance bookings ahead of festivities. For instance, at the Mumbai airport, passenger traffic grew by almost 45% as compared to last month. To complement this growing traffic, advertising at airports is indeed being amplified. The festive season has always been important from the overall OOH perspective. Brands are keen on tapping into the increasing number of travellers and are sure to receive greater visibility and wider reach via their campaigns,” shared Nanda.

Atin Gupta, Managing Director, Atin Promotions & Advertising, remarks, “Airport branding has started picking up pace since October. An increase in the number of passengers will go a long way in attracting clients to advertise. Demand has picked up since October, though clients are requesting for pricing in line with the traffic, but clients are coming back or sure.”

Shashi Chaudhary, MD, Century Group of Companies, tells us that they expect the traffic to be normal by March- April 2021. At present, at many airports such as Patna, Silchar and Gorakhpur, traffic is almost at the pre-COVID stage level.

Upinder Singh, Project Director, Edge1 Outdoor Media Management Software, which is a key DOOH player who offers AOOH solutions for companies, says, “Airports are the gateways to cities, and from a marketing perspective, they can act as gateways to brands too. There are a number of options through which a brand can achieve desired visibility among the high flying captive audiences across various domestic and international airports. With several launches planned in the festive season, brands would want to gain as much as they can through airport branding to recover from the unfavourable first half of the financial year. Owing to these reasons, brands would want to reach transit audiences with the airport media as they will be the most progressive ones.”

Talking about the festive season being a benefactor for the amplification of branding activities, Nanda says, “The demand for Airport advertising has certainly increased due to the surge in passenger movement. This is owed to a multitude of factors, including the upcoming festive season, opening-up of economic activities and further relaxation of lockdown rules. Additionally, consumer behaviour has changed post-COVID, causing a shift in consumer categories and subsequently the brands coming on board to advertise. We too are adapting with the times and aligning our media to suit client needs and objectives.”

Chaudhary comments, “With the increase in flights, brands can easily target their target audience as well as mass audience. Also, in festive season, movement of people is very high in comparison to a normal season. So we expect the demand for airport branding to increase.”

Singh shares, “The increase in flights during the ongoing festive season will bring in cheer and serve as a respite from the pandemic associated slumber. This new phase will bring in new opportunities for the brands to showcase exceptional creativity and storytelling by integrating messages like social distancing into their ads.”

Brands interest in airport branding

Times OOH owns advertising rights to some of the marquee properties across India. Nanda says, “These come at a good cost structure, so booking profit in these times seems a bit of a far-fetched goal. This situation demands a different business approach until things stabilise. Our focus is currently on accelerating revenues in airport advertising by offering a bouquet of solutions with the right balance of cost and media while keeping the client’s campaign objective in mind.”

Nanda, speaking about the brands that have come on board, says, “We are aware of the cuts in marketing budgets, so we’re offering good packages at lower price points for certain client categories and are also launching new offerings like IPL updates, which will help us regain momentum at the airports. Delta Faucet, Elica, MCX and NCDEX are some of the clients that partnered with us for the cost-effective digital IPL campaign. Brands like Netflix, Renault, Mankind Pharma, Gujarat Tourism and MX Player have come on board ahead of the festive season. We are also using this time to look at the bigger picture, brainstorm internally, and identify our next area of growth, be it a new advertising opportunity or entering a whole new category.”

Is airport advertising a good fit for brands post-lockdown?

Nanda comments, “While air travel and passenger traffic are showing signs of revival, the premium audience at airports has remained unchanged. Airports are still the one destination for focussed advertising, especially when it comes to targeting business audiences and garnering definite eyeballs. Unlike any other medium, airport advertising can offer low distraction and high dwell time, especially now due to the safety measures in place. Not only is the brand exposure higher, but brands also get more visibility due to lesser competition. Ultimately this allows them to effectively communicate their message and have a long-lasting positive association in the minds of the passengers.”

Gupta believes that the festive season, traffic increasing exponentially, people coming out of lockdown itching to spend, less clutter, fantastic deals, longer wait times make it a great time to advertise at airports.

Chaudhary remarks, “This is the right time for brands to opt for airport branding because people now want to go their workplaces asap, and due to fewer trains operated in India, the low-income group people are also travelling via flight, thus the brand can easily target 360-degree audience through airport advertising.”

On a concluding note, Singh says, “The greatest advantage of airport media is a captive audience. A controlled environment and sharper targeting. It has given the OOH industry a fresh boost to reach out to a wider set of audiences. Every passenger spends a minimum of 5-7 mins in the queue trying to clear security and get to the other side, hence the brand gets 100% assured visibility.”

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