We are now on the threshold of a new travel boom, whereas the effects of the corona pandamic are still noticeable. How was Media Frankfurt able to weather the crisis?
On the one hand, of course, the pandemic hit us hard. On the other hand, every crisis can also be seen as an opportunity, and we took advantage of this. We didn’t freeze in a state of shock but launched a variety of projects aimed at expanding our strong position in the market. For example, we extended our marketing network with other airports and, following Vienna, Stuttgart and Hamburg, we will cooperate on Zurich’s airport advertising, where interesting sectors, such as finance and luxury, are well represented. We also plan to work more closely together with our cooperation partner in Hamburg. And – something I am particularly pleased about – we remained in close contact with our clients throughout the pandemic and were even able to strengthen many existing connections. To this end, we changed our price model to weekly prices, which enables us to react with greater flexibility to our clients’ needs and dynamic processes of change in the world market.
What developments are you expecting over the coming months?
The outlook is wholly positive. We see that our international hub is the first airport to which passenger traffic returned and, parallel to this, there has been growth in the demand for advertising space. Our clients are interested in aviation hubs again and airport advertising has recovered a fixed place in their media plans. For their claims, marketing managers are currently looking anew for extraordinary formats that offer them an exclusive and high level of attention.
Media Frankfurt celebrates its 50th birthday in 2021. You have been involved with airport advertising in Germany for many years and at Media Frankfurt since 2018. What have been your personal airport-advertising highlights?
The most impressive highlights are, of course, the huge digital installations at Frankfurt Airport. Nowhere else can you find digital advertising with such a concentrated emotional impact. No other German airport can offer bigger digital media.
At the same time, the most innovative campaigns are the big omni-channel drives that link advertising, retail, promotion, online, newsletters and social media in a highly effective way. For example, the 2019 La Prairie campaign, which was so successful that the luxury cosmetic brand was sold out at the airport within an amazingly short time and they had to call for products to be sent from shops all over Frankfurt. Most likely, we are the only agency in Europe that can offer such complete, interlocking campaigns because, as a shareholder, Fraport is equally involved at all relevant touchpoints. Thus, retail, e-commerce and the pre-flight phase can also be integrated into the 360-degree storytelling.
Media Frankfurt has invested large sums in XXL advertising space and spectacular digital installations in recent years. The Digital Deluxe Board was introduced in 2019. Are these huge presentations mainly an OOH advertising trend?
The more global a brand, the bigger and more impressive is its presentation at the airport expected to be. We have seen that international B-to-C clients, such as L’Oréal, particularly like to take advantage of this attention-grabbing advantage in the international transfer area, for example, via its eye-catching Digital Deluxe Board. There, they can target affluent passengers not only from the Middle East and Asia but also from the US. Accordingly, these large-scale media are generally used for long-term, classical branding and image advertising but almost never for individual, short-term campaigns.
Which products in the Media Frankfurt portfolio do you see as having the greatest chances of growth? What will you be keeping a special eye on in the future?
On digital media, without doubt. When the new Terminal 3 opens in 2026, we will only have digital advertising space there. Moreover, we anticipate important impulses from the final triumph of our programmatic approach, which will have a much greater role to play in terms of proven coverage and target-group focus.
Are there particular sectors where you see an exceptional potential for growth – sectors that have so far seriously neglected the possibilities of airport advertising?
Today, IT brands and companies offering applications with which we create a hybrid working model are now much more suited to the airport setting with their claims. However, we must put greater emphasis on the benefits of a highly technology-driven advertising environment such as the airport. In other words, we must advise these clients with an exact focus on their communication goals – and do so well in advance of the creative phase. In general, I see us more in the role of an airport agency that shows clients where the special features and chances of the site are to be found and how they can best reach their target group at the airport. Naturally, this also means we should be involved at an early point in the concept phase and not be left until the time has come to choose the media to be used.
Let’s take an example from another sector: we can make highly individual offers for sports-article manufacturers, for example, with a showroom where they can present the most exclusive models to potential customers. In addition, we offer glass showcases in the terminals they can use to promote their latest products. From our market research, we know exactly where and how airport advertising works, where the target groups are to be found and how to use this knowledge to fine-tune airport campaigns. And this extra knowledge is something we can provide in the form of expert advice early in the preparatory phase.
What is it that makes the airport so special as an advertising location?
There are hardly any other places where a client can reach their target groups so precisely. And this is the reason that the programmatic approach has moved inexorably into our focus. At the same time, the airport is not only a place that people remain for an above-average length of time but also a place with a high emotional significance. You could well say that travel, flying and airports are subjects that have positive, almost poignant associations, for all of us.
Additionally, people pass through the airport with a completely different mindset. At the airport, advertising is an integral aspect of the architecture and the customer journey. Accordingly, it is perceived without distraction – in distinction to other media where the advertising always competes with the content and, therefore, receives much less attention.
To bore a little deeper: if the setting is so individual, which distinguishes airport advertising in your view? What does it have that is missing from other media forms?
You shouldn’t forget that decisions about airport advertising are nowadays made on global CMO level. This alone shows how important branding at the airport is within the media plan and, to a certain extent, within the budget, too. Permit me a brief digression: if we were listed by Nielsen, Media Frankfurt would immediately come in the top ten billings of consumer magazines. Our clients appreciate the fact that, at the airport, they receive undivided attention at their own brand space. This high degree of exclusivity is not available on radio or television where the product always appears within a commercial block and in a completely different competitive situation. Moreover, we are not a mass medium, such as radio and television, and we address a much more exclusive customer clientele. Equally, airport advertising is very much an exception within the out-of-home sphere, which itself is still a genuine mass medium. Airport advertising does not have a broad impact but works on the basis of ‘one to someone special’, i.e., with a clearly defined target group. Thus, I would with complete self-confidence describe airport advertising as a genuine ‘refinement’ for out-of-home advertising.