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January 11, 2017

We are giving advertisers a journey to remember.

Do you want the most effective advertising for your brand? Read on…

At Ink, we love telling stories. We love it even more when we can back them up with hard and provable facts. So when we shout from the rooftops that air passengers are an affluent audience for advertisers, that their numbers are going to double over the next 20 years and that inflight magazine readership is on the up, it’s great to be able to back our boasts up with credible data from independent experts such as Gfk, the IATA and Kantar.

One thing we’ve always maintained and wanted to prove, is that the inflight environment IS UNIQUE. It’s a time when people are on their way to somewhere exciting, in a happy frame of mind and away from the distractions of their mobiles and laptops, giving them the time and opportunity to pay more attention to the content and advertising in travel media. With the importance placed on consumer engagement, we’ve always felt this was one of our key strengths…but how to go about proving it?

All we needed was two former karate world champions, an ex-professional footballer, some cutting-edge brainwave measurement technology and an aeroplane…

Ink enlisted the help of Higher Level, a team of cognitive and physical performance specialists who have worked with some of the biggest blue-chip companies in the world, as well as a host of elite sportsmen and teams, to add some science to what we’ve been saying all this time.

As a pre-test, Higher Level tested a group of participants on the ground, asking them to read an inflight magazine before their short-term memories were “wiped” by performing a word-search. They were then tested on what they could remember about the magazine’s content and advertising. While doing this, they were wired up to a lightweight brain computer interface to record their EEG (that’s the brain’s electrical activity to you and me).

Then came the fun bit.

A week later, our participants became passengers and joined Higher Level on a 7 hour flight to Dubai, where they were asked to do a similar test…but this time 30,000 feet in the air.

As far as we know, this type of airborne research hasn’t been attempted by any media company in the world before. Perhaps with good reason – it’s hideously expensive and, when conducting research in carefully controlled focus groups, it’s rare for participants to:

  • Decide to go to sleep
  • Tell us they were too engrossed in a film to do the test
  • Lock themselves in the toilet
  • Have to quit the test halfway through because of turbulence

But eventually we got the high-tech test done.

When we got home Higher Level went away and tested the results with Birkbeck University of London.

And this is what they found out:

Advertising recall saw a staggering increase on the plane compared to on the ground, rising from just under 44% to nearly 65%.

This means that brands using inflight magazines can expect a recollection rate nearly 50% higher than those appearing in publications consumed on terra firma.

Mervyn Etienne, applied cognitive neuroscience researcher at Birkbeck, and part of the Higher Level team explained the science behind these findings: “There is a close link between memory performance and neural oscillations (the rhythmic or repetitive neural activity which takes place in the central nervous system). The same oscillations that determine better memory performance are also associated with relaxation and the relief from anxiety.”

“We found that, after air passengers have been through all the stresses and strains of making it through passport control and security, being in a relaxed frame of mind when they’re finally in their plane seat would make it easier for them to absorb and recall messages – such as the content and advertising in inflight magazines. This research would seem to back that up”.

There we have it. We’ve always known we had something special. After all, hundreds of advertisers every year know this environment is delivering excellent results. Finally, we now have scientific proof that the inflight environment is perfect for brands’ advertising messages to be retained and recalled. So remember, next time you’re looking for a memorable, engaging and inspiring advertising space…just look up!

Download our comprehensive research piece here.

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