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OOH Interviews

Soumitra S Bhattacharyya

CEO | 01 Sep 2005

“We have to have relevant data on outdoor and we have to scientifically justify ROI. Till that happens I guess opportunities would only mean a new site on some new road… Currently, creativity in outdoor only means creativity in visuals but creativity has to be there in strategy and media as well.”

MOMS , an out of home planning & buying media agency which is a part of the Madison Group, has grown considerably over the years. Soumitra S Bhattacharyya, a graduate in Rural Marketing from XLRI-Jamshedpur, is currently the founder member of IOAAA (India Outdoor Advertising Agencies Association) and has been instrumental in starting the MRUC Indian Outdoor Survey (IOS). In conversation with Saurabh Niranjan Turakhia of exchange4media, Bhattacharyya talks about areas of concern for OOH, the opportunities that lie and the importance of research for the industry. Excerpts:

Q. How do you see the outdoor market in India currently?

. The outdoor market in India is just that -- a market! It is not an industry and unless it gets the status of an industry, nothing is going to work. All outdoor players want to do something but going by what it is actually happening, everyone is just giving lip service. I believe that most of the towns have media owners’ associations which is the first step, but after that? Unless there is a collective force, no development is possible. We specialist agencies have formed an association and I guess that could be the common platform that could unite all.

Q. What are the kinds of opportunities that outdoor players can look for in India?

Opportunities and development/growth go hand in hand. If we want to have opportunities we have to ensure good growth and then only would major monies be invested in this area of advertisement. To get the growth that would bring in monies we have to ensure that outdoor gets its due share in the media planners’ scheme of things. For that to happen we have to have relevant data on outdoor and we have to scientifically justify ROI. Till that happens I guess opportunities would only mean a new site on some new road.

Q. Is there any particular regulatory body addressing issues pertaining to outdoor?

As far as I know there is none.

Q. Share your experience with MOMS and milestones attained.

MOMS is a very young agency and for a person who had been selling products all his life, MOMS was a welcome change and challenge. In a very short span of four years we have come to be recognized as one of the few dependable specialist agencies in outdoor.

Q. Does MOMS have any indigenous tools that can be used for clients?

Yes, we have a tool called MplanT (MOMS Planning Tool) and MOTTO (MOMS Operation Tracking Tool for OOH). MplanT is the outdoor tool that improves your planning abilities and MOTTO is a business process tool that captures the entire process from the brief to client payment.

Q. Is availability of concrete data an issue for the outdoor industry?

Yes, definitely. We have to have industry-syndicated data so that we all are on the same page as far as the raw data is concerned and there are no ambiguities. How best we use the data and inventory management would then be the differentiator along with of course the price.

Q. What are the areas where OOH has an edge over other mediums?

Cost-effectiveness, and not being fragmented. A “captive” audience that sees your visual back and forth on his regular route. These are clear advantages that OOH has over other mediums.

Q. Can you throw some light on ‘inflatables’ as a part of OOH?

. Inflatables are just one of the media that are available. The important thing is where they are put and how innovative are they in order to be able to grab eyeballs.

Q. What are the events specific to outdoor, other than OAC? How do such events help the industry?

OAC was a first in the history of Indian outdoor and these sort of conventions do help the industry by bringing all players to a single venue where many a thing can happen if there is a will and a consensus among all to make that change happen.

Q. What are the key factors on which growth of the outdoor industry is dependent?

Cohesiveness and the will to change for the better among all the big players in this industry.

Q. Please give your views on ‘creativity through outdoor’. Can you share examples of highly creative outdoor campaigns?

Currently, creativity in outdoor only means creativity in visuals but creativity has to be there in strategy and media as well. We have lots of examples as far as creativity in visuals is concerned but comparatively lesser instances as far as creativity in strategy, and very little in terms of creativity in media. The reason for this is that there are no figures or data that can comfort the client that doing something new with media or strategy is going to be a positive trend. The other reason is of course that to do anything new, you probably need to take permission from so many authorities and invariably you would have missed one who would pull your idea down.

Q. Where do you see the outdoor industry five years from now?

Struggling along but by then I guess there would be the Outdoor Survey and things would be a little more organized. I also feel that town planning and aesthetics would become very important by then and efforts would have been made to look at also beautifying areas along with the commercial aspect of the whole thing.

Q. Throw some light on the role of research in the growth of outdoor as a medium.

Role of research in India has been till now proprietary and thus its effectiveness has been restricted to glorifying that particular agency or the media owner’s company. That has not helped the industry at all. Fortunately, IOAAA has taken upon itself the task to get a syndicated survey done. Hopefully that would turn things around. That is when things would take the upswing and move towards a better OOH environment.

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