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From airports to roadside: OOH advertising trends in the region

JCDecaux Middle East and Africa CEO Martin Sabbagh speaks to Campaign Middle East about airport advertising experiences and OOH in the Kingdom

How is JCDecaux doing in the Middle East?

2023 has been a record year for JCDecaux in the Middle East, with very strong revenue growth across our markets. 2024 is off to a very strong start as well. Regarding our airport portfolio, the investments made during the COVID period and our unique regional asset base allowed us to successfully leverage the very significant rebound of passenger traffic in the region.

We had never reached such a diverse customer base, which is very encouraging for the relevance of our advertising solutions. Roadside advertising is a bit more contrasted. While demand is very strong for qualitative assets and audiences, the proliferation of advertising assets in some of our markets can be a concern.

How have you seen airport advertising develop globally?

2024 marks a significant turning point for global air traffic and a full global recovery to 2019 levels is anticipated this year. Our latest global airport research conducted by IPSOS, “First Class Advertising: The Enduring Magic of Airports,” also confirms the potent opportunity for brands to connect with business, leisure, and the new “bleisure” travellers in these influential spaces.

Flyers overwhelmingly recognise and value the unique appeal of the airport environment, indicating its profound influence on their perceptions and experiences. They enjoy the airport experience and advertising and are also receptive to it and act upon it, making airport advertising more powerful and influential than ever. Airports are places of real dialogue between the audience and brands through emotional and impactful experiences.

They offer brands the opportunity to capture passengers’ attention and engage with them through a one-of-a-kind experience. This dialogue has even been extended to other parties at Dubai Airport, illustrating the benefit of a collaborative strategy: a quartet made up of the brand, the airport, retail, and the advertising operators. This collaboration aims at building a new eco-system based on advertising, airport, and travel retail data in order to deliver an optimised advertising scheduling system and boost campaign efficiency.

What’s your experience in Saudi Arabia, and what are your thoughts on the current boom?

First, we answered the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation tender in 2008 and signed our first concession agreement in 2010. Since then, we have put JCDecaux’s global expertise to work to transform the airport advertising experience in KSA and have successfully positioned airport advertising as a niche and unique media opportunity in the Kingdom.

Over the years, we also expanded operations outside of the airport with the King Fahad Causeway Authority advertising concession. We are very impressed by how Vision 2030 has changed everything in the Kingdom. The out-of-home industry, being very exposed to urban developments, transportation, and tourism, has seen many opportunities develop.

The industry now needs to deliver to the best standards in the world, and that requires a significant leap in expertise, technology, and investments. I cannot wait to see where OOH will be in a few years in the Kingdom and its contribution to Vision 2030. As far as JCDecaux is concerned, we are very busy bringing the best of our expertise to our partners, and we are very proud of the very iconic assets recently deployed in Jeddah, Dammam, and Medinah airports as well as on the KFCA.

Why are you setting up a regional office in Saudi Arabia?

With advertising assets in more than 80 countries worldwide, JCDecaux is one of the few global media owners operating in the region. Given the very strong communication needs of the Saudi government and companies, JCDecaux felt that it would make sense to have a dedicated team serving their global needs directly from Saudi Arabia. We have the same “OneWorld” offices operating very efficiently in New York, Paris, London, Milan, Madrid, and Shanghai, serving our global clients, and are ready to onboard our Saudi and regional partners. It also confirms JCDecaux’s ambition to support the Saudi government and local heroes around the world.

What is JCDecaux’s strategy with regards to data and the new sales funnel in the Middle East?

JCDecaux’s entrepreneurial culture and DNA are centred on product and service innovation.Data has been central to our discussions with brands, leading us to invest heavily in providing actionable insights throughout their campaign journey.

With the creation of JCDecaux Data Corp, a team of +70 data experts based at our HQ in Paris and the region, we launched JCDecaux Data Solutions, a portfolio of global and local solutions that helps brands maximise the power of their media investment. Whether pre-, during, or post-campaign, we are adopting a ‘’data by design’’ approach to deliver improved results for advertisers.

We are pioneering programmatic with a unique, comprehensive open ecosystem for third-party operators, combining 2 tech platforms, ‘Displayce’ (a data management platform) and ‘Viooh’ (programmatic selling and planning management), to connect advertisers to their targets. We are currently working on the implementation of this new opportunity in the region.

Can you please talk us through JCDecaux’s approach to ESG and elaborate on why you believe it holds such significance for advertising in the Middle East?

We are all stakeholders in a more sustainable world. ESG is a topic deeply ingrained in our company’s culture. In the region, we believe that environmental consciousness and sustainable practices must garner greater attention. Landlords and brands should focus more on the tangible efforts and concrete acts of their media partners.

Unfortunately, ESG criteria are not sufficiently integrated and assessed by our clients in their tender’s requirements. Along with being a business challenge, assessing sustainability in tenders is key to achieving our climate objectives and accelerating the deployment of sustainable solutions. We have implemented numerous sustainable initiatives by leveraging new technologies.

Our advertising displays are powered entirely by renewable, green energy sourced locally. We incorporate light-dimming technology to minimise electricity consumption while maintaining the visibility and impact of brands’ campaigns.

Choosing JCDecaux means selecting a media partner committed to responsible actions and recognised by major non-financial rating agencies like the Carbon Disclosure Project, FTSE4Good, MSCI, and EcoVadis. JCDecaux is committed to sustainable outdoor.