JCDecaux Airport UK have created a full 360-degree virtual reality airport environment, based on Heathrow Terminal 5, to conduct research into gaze behaviour and engagement with advertising at a level of immersion previously untested in a fabricated environment. 

Conducted in partnership with Spinview and Tobii Pro, the innovative study added a new dimension to the popular eye-tracking methodology which JCDecaux Airport first undertook 15 years ago. Respondents were recruited to reflect typical airport audience demographics and were unaware that the research was related to advertising. The research included implicit and explicit responses, and it revealed that advertising screens within the airport deliver a valuable and engaging presence for the unique airport audience. 73% of respondents recalled advertising screens as one of the first three elements they could remember from the VR airport terminal, and a large proportion believed that advertising added to the overall airport experience. In addition, 71% of respondents recalled seeing the specific brands advertised.   

The study also demonstrated that dynamic copy promotes higher engagement rates, with a 17% uplift in the engagement of respondents looking at dynamic vs standard advertisements. Therefore, dynamic copy offers brands a prime opportunity to communicate complex brand messages. However, for a simpler branding message, advertisers that used standard copy were in fact recalled more than those using dynamic versions – a useful learning for brands wishing to achieve a longer-term presence.   

The research also showed that creative copy using vivid colours and motion saw an increase in engagement, indicating the value for brands considering the use of interesting and impactful creative to stand out with their audience.   

Steve Cox, Marketing Director, JCDecaux Airport UK said “We are really proud to have taken an existing research project to the next level using modern VR technology. The full 3D model was built in-house by our expert design team to ensure all aspects of the airport were visualised as realistically as possible. The learnings will enable us to service and advise our clients better, giving them key direction on how best to achieve a high impact and engaging creative campaign.” 

Ali Farokhian, Head of Marketing Research & UX, Tobii Pro said “The integration of Tobii eye tracking to HTC Vive’s VR headset has opened up whole new dimension for marketing research.  Attention is a key indicator of what engages people and we are extremely pleased to have been part of gathering actionable insight for JCDecaux on the future of Heathrow Airport’s OOH advertising and their media placement strategy”. 

Linda Wade, CEO, Spinview, “At Spinvew we are continually focused on developing the application of VR to deliver insight which can be applied to real world business challenges. As such we are extremely excited about the findings of 'In Plane Sight'. Working in partnership with JCDecaux Airport and Tobii Pro represents the gold standard in using VR to produce highly accurate measurements of customer behaviour which, in this case, will enable advertisers to make informed decisions based on tangible data.” 
Full findings of the research can be found here.

For any enquiries please contact Steve Cox on