Over the last few years, the words ‘behavioural science’ have started to creep back into the wider media landscape—essentially, it’s the study of human actions—but this is no example of more media hyperbole.
It’s a broad church, covering disciplines such as neuroscience (men in lab coats—the scientific side of the spectrum) and psychology, through to behavioural economics.
It’s not new, in fact, it’s been around for decades. Many trace its origins back to 1950s America.
Richard Shotton’s book The Choice Factory highlights the scientific proof behind the decisions we make-behavioural biases, if you will.
Rory Sutherland’s a fan, he has long espoused the benefits of brands tapping into our cognitive biases. Hear him speak and he’ll touch upon questions such as ‘why do we prefer striped toothpaste?’
I’m not here to give you the answer. Google it.
Yet this is no fad, this is science giving us the real, subconscious answer behind our decision-making; it’s powerful stuff.
So, what does all the above have to do with out-of-home media and more specifically, the airport environment?
The answer is mood—which is incidentally one of the chapters of Shotton’s book, where he explains the benefits of targeting ads according to consumers mood.
Happiness is the key. A Yahoo study showed we are 24% more receptive to content when we are in a good mood. The IPA offers the startling, no-shit-sherlock insight that we are happiest between Friday and Sunday, peaking on Saturday afternoon. I can’t think why. Shotton summarises “Since people recall ads better when they’re in a good mood brands should target this moment. First, consider targeting consumers during enjoyable activities.”
Primesight and OOH specialist Kinetic commissioned YouGov to conduct a study into airport audiences and their moods, mindsets and behaviours within the airport environment. One of the key findings is that the majority of travellers (53%) feel positive and happy within the airport. It’s a not a stretch to say that many of us—to use an old adage—live for our holidays.
In fact, a global study by Booking.com highlighted some startling statistics behind our need for holidays or a break. Many consider planning and going away on holiday more vital for our happiness than the following big life occasions: securing a new job (50%), having a baby (29%) and our own wedding day (49%). If my wife’s reading, I am firmly in the 51% camp.
So how can these behavioural insights be applied to advertising?
Emotive messaging has been proven to be more effective than rational in the long-term; brands should be exploiting the mood of the nation more, at a time when it’s being increasingly tested, and trust in advertising, institutions and brands is at an all-time low.
Why not ‘own happiness’ with tactical digital messaging, owning Friday-Sundays with positive, emotive communication?
We can even take that one step further; the airport is a unique environment, an incubator from the outside world, a place where time is there to be killed. It’s why Wetherspoon’s is always full at 7am on a Monday.
Ever wondered what that waist-high army of smiley-faced machines, popping up in airports and public spaces around the world is for? They’re ‘HappyOrNot’ customer satisfaction terminals, the brainchild of Finn Heikki Vannesen, allowing you to register your feedback by touching one of the four response buttons, from a jubilant green to grumpy-faced red. This isn’t meaningless input—in fact it’s helped produce an airport happiness report, based on feedback from 1,600 global airports.
The findings make for interesting reading: we’re happiest on a Tuesday, followed closely by both Wednesdays and Thursday. 9am is the happiest time of day for air travellers, closely followed by 8am. October and November are the happiest months. The happiest area of the airport: post-security. And the world’s happiest airport? Move over Changi (rooftop pool), it’s the UK’s very own micro terminal, Exeter.
With this information at hand, brands should be looking to tailor their creative to the specific environment, not the medium alone. Digital day-parting can take this further. Why not own the mornings in airports when travellers are at their happiest?
Domino’s understand this environment with their food-of-everything mantra, creating bespoke copy for airport arrivals, acknowledging the empty fridge syndrome that afflicts return travellers and riffing off our obsession with phones with a “What’s the first thing you do when you have internet access again… order a pizza” (obviously) creative. Thomas Cook celebrate the joy of flying with “wahey, you’re not going to work or school tomorrow” messaging at the gate, whilst Thomson encouraged passengers to “share your first holiday smile for a chance to win £500 voucher” accompanied by #MadeMeSmile.
Brands that tap into these micro moments with contextually relevant copy will reap the rewards.
Because as we all know, context is king.
Article written by Joel Harris, Business Strategy Director