7 - 13 March 2001

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Airport advertising: MIA taps into non-aviation revenue

By Nadine Brincat

Within the context of a free market, local and global competition has given rise to an added dimension in advertising. The MIA has joined the international bandwagon, by tapping into the important area of airport advertising.

Non-aviation revenue is on the increase at major airports across the globe, thanks to the availability of space. With the increasing importance of airport advertising on both the local and international front, space at the MIA may easily become more valuable, if used to its full potential. A brief visit to our airport illustrates the importance of space management, through a multitude of billboards, lighting boxes and other advertising ploys.

In a perpetual bid for increased revenues, airport advertising must implement new technologies and strategies. The complex operating environment of airports makes the development of revenue sources from the non-aviation sector of their business very welcome. A major source of such revenue is commercial advertising.

Airport advertising in the world's airports holds a yearly potential of Lm250 to Lm350 million, with sales revenues growing faster than passenger numbers and high demand for additional advertising possibilities. Brands battle for locations of maximum exposure to a target market of professionals with high disposable income, who travel frequently, watch little television and earn over Lm30,000 a year.

Besides being a prime communication channel to reach this target market, airports offer a range of different media, such as illuminated panels, light boxes showcases, static displays, promotional activities and exhibitions.

Airports have a unique value in advertising, since, unlike other media, innovations in airport advertising is not brought about by technology, but in quality, design, and the tactics used to sell airport advertising. The airport environment is clearly attractive for international advertisers. The implementation of new methods of advertising will provide airports with increased revenues through more targeted advertising initiatives.

Airport advertising is a difficult medium to buy, sign dimensions vary between airports, accordingly each site requires a separate production of the advertisement. To make it more attractive to a larger number of potential advertisers, boards of the same sizes are crucial among many airports, since international advertisers often place their messages in a number of airports, concurrently. A balance between the individual style of each airport, and the sizes of displays, must be achieved, not through unifying sizes, but through a certain level of compatibility.

However, the airport advertising industry is criticised for lagging behind other media and is unable to deliver the sophistication other media can provide. Although one should note that the investment in digital media is extremely high compared with the standard light boxes. Plasma screens and other electronic media last for approximately three years, while light boxes run for over 10.

The quality design of advertising units will always be the essential basis for the presentation of any advertising message. The future of airport advertising will involve the introduction of a number of compatible products for use in many airports, and single non-standard solutions for individual airports, at high quality standards.

Malta International Airport figures yielded significant improvement last year. In 2000, pre-tax profits increased from Lm2,065,085 to Lm3,257,085, an increase of Lm1,192,000. Earnings per share also showed and increase. According to an MIA spokesman, the improved performance resulted from a number of factors, positively effecting both commercial and aviation revenue.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt