What it takes to engage the business audience

By Julie France and Lawson Muncaster, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 26 May 2011 12:01AM

JCDecaux Airport and City AM chiefs describe what it takes to stand out from the crowd that always clamours for the attention of the business audience.

JULIE FRANCE - MANAGING DIRECTOR, JCDECAUX AIRPORT

- How difficult do you think it is to ensure that advertising messages reach a business audience, habitually referred to as "hard to reach"?

The business audience is our lifeblood. What we're selling is the ability to connect with this exclusive demographic at a time and place that will ensure they truly engage with the message. Clearly there are two considerations here - is the business audience present, and will they engage with the ads? For us, the answer to both is a resounding "yes". Some 30 million business travellers pass through our airports annually, and our award-winning airport ethnographic research proves their mindset is highly receptive to taking in our advertisers' communications.

- What new developments have you implemented to improve your media offering and shape your audience's perception of it?

These people are educated, affluent, and exclusive. However, this also means they're highly discriminating, and may be dismissive of poorly presented advertising - in any medium. To address this, we've undertaken an extensive programme of removing underperforming panels, while refurbishing and enhancing those in the most effective airport "pinchpoints". This "less is more" policy, initiated in collaboration with our airport concession partners, has ensured our portfolio is now working harder than ever for advertisers.

- How important is new technology in engaging the interest of your business audience?

Today's airports are built on cutting-edge technology, and successful businesses have innovation and IT at their heart. Our business audience sees this reflected in the hi-tech platforms we offer, and in the technology brands we showcase. At Heathrow, you'll see fabulous brand campaigns from Juniper, Symantec, and Microsoft among others. However, the airport environment also suits brands getting consumers to interact with content and data delivered to their mobile devices.

- What new development within your medium are you most excited by, and why?

A week seldom passes without comment on the growth of the digital out-of-home sector, and we've invested disproportionately in this area. Our 800 UK screens offer advertisers the opportunity to capitalise on the extra engagement, flexibility, and interactivity that digital offers. Digital permits shorter campaigns, and immediate response to market changes. The combination of this market-leading digital portfolio with the potential for mobile dialogue and personal engagement will deliver some memorable campaigns over the next 12 months.

- What do you think advertisers still need to learn about your media platform?

I'm still frustrated whenever we're accused of inflexibility. The sheer diversity of our portfolio ensures we provide effective solutions to any business brief. Whether it's long-term iconic impact panels in key locations, short-term broadcast campaigns on networks of smaller panels, or interactive "touch" solutions through experiential activity or mobile linkage, we'll always have something relevant to offer. In fact, Heathrow Express (HEX) offers the most focused high-volume business proposition in UK outdoor. Check out the current campaign for Carlson Hotels - a stunning combination of digital and vinyl wraps taking ownership of HEX lifts, corridors, and escalators.

- As a business person yourself, which innovation has most significantly changed the way you do business today?

I really couldn't live without my iPhone. A winning combination of great aesthetics, user-friendly functionality, and game-changing innovation. It makes keeping in touch a pleasure, whether I'm in the office, on the Heathrow Express or spending a fortune in the fabulous shops at Terminal 5.

LAWSON MUNCASTER - MANAGING DIRECTOR, CITY AM

- How difficult do you think it is to ensure that advertising messages reach a business audience, habitually referred to as "hard to reach"?

Advertising opportunities to target any audience in the past ten years have significantly grown. There are far too many opportunities to reach a target market these days. It isn't hard for advertisers to reach a business audience, but whether you cut through is down to the message you send them, the tone in which you speak and the environment it's in. City AM's audience is very comfortable with advertising as they understand it's what funds the paper. It's important, too, to have an audience in engagement mode rather than passive mode and newspapers offer this.

- What new developments have you implemented to improve your media offering and shape your audience's perception of it?

City AM's ability to deliver quality editorial increased dramatically with the arrival of Allister Heath as our editor in March 2008 - recently nominated as Business Journalist of the Year at the London Press Club Awards. Allister looks at the business position of this country with an economic, as opposed to a political, point of view. The audience understands that and appreciates the facts he delivers without any sort of political agenda. Allister can pinpoint the real economic truth of problems - something politicians are unable to do if they want to win elections.

- How important is new technology in engaging the interest of your business audience?

The business audience are early adopters of technology and from City AM's launch, any new technology introduced - from podcasts, iPhones, Blackberrys and iPads - has been very important to us as our readers use these devices more than any other demographic. They are always busy and on the move, and it is vital that we reach them through these channels.

- What new development within your medium are you most excited by, and why?

Without a doubt, the iPad. Our average reader picks up City AM 2.5 times a week and the iPad app that we're launching in early summer will allow our audience to consume the paper wherever they are. As they're a very busy audience, we are keeping to our promise of editing business news for them by offering just the edited product of the paper. This means all our readers have to do is enjoy the 300 hours of our hard work in a 20-minute read - any time, anywhere in the world.

- What do you think advertisers still need to learn about your media platform?

City AM has the strongest demographic in the UK print market for advertisers. Ninety five per cent of our readers are in full-time employment, the average age of a reader is 41, with an average income of £55,000. City AM's circulation has increased from 55,000 to 110,000 since the launch - we're growing and we're delighted about that.

We have record circulation and record income at a time when national newspaper circulation is declining dramatically. Yet this message is so hard to get across and we have to continually bang our drum to advertisers.

- As a business person yourself, which innovation has most significantly changed the way you do business today?

The iPhone. It allows me to be in the marketplace continuously, without any interruptions to my day. I can be out and about meeting people, buying and selling, rather than having to sit in my office. I think it's a fantastic innovation.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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