The out-of-home space gained much momentum during 2007. The guesstimated growth figures stand at around Rs 1,500 crore per annum, with OOH medium’s share of the total advertising pie at around 6-7 per cent. exchange4media talks to some leading OOH players like Clear Channel, Future Media, Jagran Engage, Times OOH and Ogilvy Activation about the challenges and opportunities in 2008.
Sunder Hemrajani, Managing Director, Times OOH, said, “The OOH sector will continue to shine due to the growth in the Indian economy and the vast investments in infrastructure. Segments such as airports, highways, metro rail, and SEZs, are attracting huge investments. According to a FICCI-PWC report, the media and entertainment sector grew 17 per cent last year to reach Rs 513 billion. Foreign direct investment (FDI) into the sector surged to $211 million (Rs 854.55 crore), against $89.18 million in 2006. In the recent past, the outdoor industry has witnessed strong double digit growth rates and is poised to be one of the fastest growing industries, second only to online advertising. The other key factor fuelling the growth of the OOH medium is the erosion of audiences from traditional media like TV, radio, print, etc.), which continue to fragment. Indians are spending more time away from home, commuting to work, waiting in transit stations and spending a lot of time shopping, leading to opportunities for the OOH media.”
He further said, “The OOH medium also faces some serious challenges. Absence of credible research data to facilitate decision making, environmental concerns and proliferation of media properties beyond the legal boundaries are the key challenges.”
However, Hemrajani also added, “OOH advertising also enjoys all the benefits that technology has to offer. New digital advertising platforms increase flexibility and impact. Digital screens can now display multiple ads at lower production costs as compared to those of traditional outdoor printing. The emergence of Bluetooth technology in OOH will enable the consumers to download information from a billboard on their mobiles.”
According to Robin Carruthers, National Head, Clear Channel India, “The biggest challenge now is to become a part of every integrated marketing communication approach plan, instead of being utilised solely as a ‘reminder medium’. The way forward should be to increase the ‘accountability’ of outdoors as a medium and introducing a research tool approved in consensus by the industry would be an ideal first step in this direction.”
“The next step ideally should be to improvise and upgrade in terms of technological advancements. Almost every other form of advertising has upgraded itself substantially by adopting global technological advancements. Outdoors, however, still has much to achieve in this context. The industry should urge the government on the need to regulate and revise the taxes and import duties. This will in turn provide the much needed impetus and enable the industry to introduce state-of-the-art and technologically advanced outdoor media like LEDs and digital billboards,” Carruthers added.
He further said, “What is also required is a conscious effort to ‘educate’ the advertisers that OOH is much more beyond billboards and traditional wide-format media. Size does matter, but it doesn’t necessarily always matter. What is more important is whether your advertising message – (a) is visible, (b) is present where you want to be, and, (c) is seen by your target audience. Media planners, therefore, have to take the initiative and integrate ambient out-of-home media like street furniture into media plans. The essence of billboards and wide-format media cannot and will not perish, but the integration of ambient media will create additional advertising opportunities and complement the outdoor campaigns.”
He also pointed out, “It is also equally decisive that we, the outdoor industry, practice self-restrain and self-regulation to avoid catastrophes like the one being faced today in wake of the revised policy guidelines. It is my firm belief that the OOH media opportunities, be it be the wide-format billboards / hoardings or ambient media like street furniture, should be exploited but not abused.”
Partho Dasgupta, MD & CEO, Future Media, said, “In-store media, or what we term as ‘media in the ambience of consumption’, is at a fairly nascent stage in India, and is expected to grow in a big way in coming years. Retail as an industry is in the fast lane of growth, consumption is expected to grow with the growing economy. Initially, this medium was largely being used by the sales teams and the advertising budget was sourced from below-the-line marketing budget. But now, it is taking the shape of an industry of media solutions in the ambience of consumption, there are spends from both the main marketing budgets and BTL budgets. Definitely, in three years or may be a lesser period, we will see the medium being a compulsive part of the media plan.”
According to him, “The biggest challenge the industry faces is the lack of a measurement mechanism, which will enhance credibility for our industry. A big challenge specific to the ‘media in the ambience of consumption’ is that though advertisers and marketers have woken up to the medium, retailers and mall owners are yet to leverage the potential of using consumption spaces as a media vehicle. Apart from the Future Group, some retailers have tried it partially. When a retailer participates, he also brings in consumer knowledge, which is crucial in providing media solutions to various brands. Future Media would love to help retailers maximise revenues. Also, since this is the final touch-point in consumer communication, the challenge lies in utilising this media creatively and innovatively, whether it is a commercial on TV or a wall-branding. Another key factor is talent, which is important for the business.”
M Kumar, General Manager-Brand Development, Jagran Engage, said, “The challenges for the OOH business are fragmented business structure. Policy enforcers should issue clear guidelines within which stakeholders must operate, deviation must not be allowed. Decisions need to be taken jointly, it makes no sense if policymakers enforce decisions unilaterally, for example, ban on hoardings in a city. A regulatory framework has to be in place, which is in sync with international trends. Media owners need to stay within the purview of the rules and regulations laid down by the authorities.”
“There should be acceptable metrics – traffic counts, site ratings and effectiveness. IOAA needs to become the spokesperson for the business and take up cudgels with the authorities. Regarding quality and aesthetics, media owners must have the mindset to build/create sites that are sturdy, have properly lit sites, and follow the aesthetics to keep the city silhouette uncluttered. There should be transparency with clients and media owners must be accountable to clients / agencies on all campaigns. We need to be breaking the myth of OOH as a reminder medium,” Kumar added.
Nabendu Bhattacharya, Country Head, Landscapes and Signscapes, Ogilvy Activation, remarked, “We will experience a new school of OOH in India in near future. In the new media landscape, OOH is no longer purely the preserve of the static medium, it has evolved to become all-singing and all-dancing. However, Government and Legislative bodies would impose greater control and are all set to impose uniform laws governing the OOH medium across the country. There will finally be an industry syndicated research on the OOH medium. Called the Indian Outdoor Survey, the research is being done by Hansa Research and MRUC, and is in its final stages. Initial investments have bee made by Ogilvy Activation, Reliance ADAG, Laqshya Outdoor, and OAP, is supported by all industry professionals and advertisers. The study, involving top 11 cities, would be completed by the end of 2008. With the publishing of the Indian Outdoor Survey, the OOH medium can offer ROI based planning, site evaluation and efficacy matrix to media planners and advertisers.”