The phrase “airport digital signage” conjures up visions of flight destinations, gate names, and dreaded cancellations. But airports around the world are starting to use digital displays and signage in innovative ways—to inform, engage, and advertise. Here’s a look at three forward-thinking uses for airport digital signage.
- Information and Wayfinding
Sometimes, you have to communicate logistical information and get people where they need to be. But just because the message is unexciting, doesn’t mean your signs have to be. Take a look at this video wall in the Christchurch airport. The message: we’ve changed our signage to be more helpful. Great. But the visual impact of a large video wall that greets you with colorful, elegant graphic design as you enter? Stunning. It really makes you want to learn more about… airport signage, of all things.
Crisp digital signage gets passengers to engage with critical information regarding security and wayfinding. As a result, it lessens the burden on staff to shepherd thousands through an airport. And you don’t need a large video wall to attract attention. Check out this wavy digital sign at Darwin International Airport. The display is so eye-catching, it builds anticipation for the content that’s displayed. Not bad for a baggage claim area.
Auckland Airport has really stepped up its interior signage game. In between the ubiquitous-but-necessary flight lists, they placed wide digital screens to display beautiful imagery for placemaking and advertising purposes. They also made use of outdoor space, designing visual canvases that blend into the streetscape but catch the eye with great digital content.
- Entertainment and Placemaking
Digital signage can be used to make airports less boring and more memorable. Whether the focus is art, tourism, or placemaking, the sky’s the limit when come to electronic displays. LG did all three with its installation in Changi Airport, Singapore called The Social Tree. A “tree” canopy made of 64 digital displays allows passengers to share photos and videos from nearby kiosks via social media.
The idea was to allow people from the 240 countries connecting through Changi to share memories of their time in Singapore with each other. The installation took a simple waiting area from humdrum to iconic—and featured a brand and a city’s innovation. Similar interactive digital displays and video walls can be found at international airports in Bangkok.
For an absolute tour de force of digital display and signage innovation, you can’t beat LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal. A massive, architecturally integrated media display fills the Great Hall. A network of epically large LED displays and an elevator bank wrapped in screens show re-enactments of old-timey movies, and art deco-inspired portrayals of time and space. The installment is funded by sponsors in exchange for name recognition and advertising space in other terminals.
Beautiful digital signage conveys information and engages airport passengers like nothing else. But how does it pay for itself? Generating ROI is the secret behind most ambitious digital displays. As LAX did (above), airports are learning that commercial digital signage doesn’t have to be all advertising all the time. Rather, companies are happy to fund placemaking projects that are woo passenger attention with entertainment, and feature only gentle branding.
Take a look at this video wall in Heathrow Airport. For a solid minute, you see a colorful medley of people drawing and painting art. It’s a delightfully entertaining installment, after which a brand name is displayed with a tagline for less than 10 seconds. Why does this benefit the advertiser? Because people actually want to engage with content that isn’t a hard product sell.
Immersive advertising is another way to engage and delight passengers while generating advertising revenue. This network of 28 screens in an airport terminal may not be dedicated to art or placemaking, but it displays sharp, eye-level content that makes you want to stop and see what happens next. A similar installment in Hong Kong International Airport shows how an architectural element springs to life when you wrap it in continuous LEDs. Digital signage like this is proof that pure advertising doesn’t have to be boring—and neither do airports when you fill them with digital art ain entertainment.