online marketing psychology

February 19, 2010

Ads in the sky: how effective is aerial adverising?

On the occasion of Carnival, I was enjoying a break in Guarujá, one of the most popular beaches of Brazil. And while I was sitting there, trying to ignore most of the people and brands screaming at me from umbrellas and chairs, another thing grabbed my attention: overflying planes with a banners from big brands and local restaurants.

Now I wondered, does this way of advertising work?

The main difference with traditional and online advertising is that people are not familiar with this type of communication yet (not everywhere of course). This increases the attention they pay to the flying ads. Add to this the very big reach that this type of advertising achieves at places like packed highways, festivals, sport stadiums or the beach. The city where I was staying for example is a collection of beaches with a population of 300 000 that  grows to a million on busy periods such as New Year or Carnival. That is a lot of people together. Reaching the same amount on TV costs a lot more.

But how effective is this type of advertising? It is hard to come across numbers but I came across two studies that help to make the case.

One survey had 2000 respondents at Miami Beach after a plane with banner flew over 30 minutes before:
  • 88% of them could remember the banner passing by
  • 79% could remember what was advertised
  • 67% could remember at least half of the message

When the State of Maine in the US launched its new lottery with a budget of $100,000,  $8,000 was spent on aerial advertising. Afterwards a study showed that 70 percent of the respondents were aware of the lottery and that 18 percent of them had found out via aerial advertising. This means that 8% of the marketing budget resulted in an 12,6% (70%*18%) awareness rate.

Both studies show very good results in terms of awareness and cost effectiveness so it would seem that this indeed is a good way for certain brands to advertise.

I have some thoughts on the side to make though:
  • A whole bunch of different target groups are on the beach, the very big reach of this practice might be a disadvantage.
  • The design of the banner is very important, some of them have small text that is hard to read from a distance.
  • Additional to the previous point, some designs include URLs. How many people have access to the internet on the beach or how long can an URL be remembered?
I will finish with this idea I had: 
How about a very light weight banner with LEDS to send some messages at night? A lot of beaches are also known for their busy nightlife in summertime. Unlike the day crowd, these people can be more easily defined (demographic wise) which allows for better targeting.

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