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Jignesh Sharma

CEO | 01 Dec 2005

“The localised option and the option of measuring your ROI is a key factor working in favour of OOH. It gives the option of qualitative localised communication, whereby you can go into individual pockets of suburbs to design your communication. Outdoor is a very lively media and, hence, picture works better because there is no other way to make the consumer look at your display.”

As CEO of Posterscope India, Jignesh Sharma has been spearheading the agency’s out of home activities. Today, Posterscope India’s key clients include Airtel, the Afro Asian Games, Pillsbury, Pantaloons and Sahara India. Established in 2003 to look after the out of home marketing needs of its clients, Posterscope India serves as a single point for national campaigns encompassing all out of home mediums.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Saurabh Niranjan Turakhia, Sharma provides insights into the future of OOH in India. Excerpts:

Q. What are the trends working in favour of the Outdoor industry today?

There are a number of trends working in favour of OOH advertising. One of the major trends is the fragmentation of other media options like television and newspapers. There is a lot of fight for share of space in all these media. Another trend is the change in lifestyle of individuals. People are spending more time outside their homes. Furthermore, better technology options are available today.

While all these trends are certainly helping OOH, the best thing working in favour of the medium is the option of Return on Investment (ROI), which allows working out the logistics on where one would like to invest in marketing and advertising. What is important is that OOH also gives the option of the most qualitative localised communication, whereby you can go into individual pockets of suburbs to design your communication.

Q. Could you throw some light on the size of the outdoor industry?

Well, there are no syndicated figures available. According to our guestimate, the size of the industry would be in the range of around Rs 1,100-1,200 crore. While Posterscope India is growing at the rate of 100 per cent, the growth rate of the industry is in the range of 15-20 per cent.

Q. How do you see initiatives like OAC (Outdoor Advertising Convention) working for the outdoor industry?

It is a very welcome initiative and I would like to congratulate Vasant Jante for this. It’s high time we professionals came together on a common platform. Unfortunately, we didn’t have this kind of platform available earlier. With OAC, all people who are beneficiaries of or are affected by the OOH industry -- agencies as well as media owners -- will get an opportunity to be on a common platform and start looking at the common objective of the industry – which is growth and stabilisation of the industry.

Q. What is the role of language in OOH? Could you throw light on the visual to text proportion for the medium?

As I mentioned earlier, the localised option and the option of measuring ROI in a particular market is a key factor working in favour of OOH. And language plays a major role in that as it allows the advertiser to communicate to the consumers in the language they understand best.

Outdoor is a very lively media and, hence, picture works better because there is no other way to make the consumer look at your display. He will not get inclined towards your display unless you give him an attractive picture or technology or innovation that is eye-catching. Naturally, visual plays at least a 70 per cent role. It is also important to note that the visual should be catchy in order to attract eyeballs.

Q. How good is the recall value of outdoor advertisements?

First of all, let me clarify that recall value of any outdoor communication or OOH is based on a number of parameters like creativity, innovation, frequency and size. Having said that, if the entire combination of media plan and the strategy is worked in a proper way, the recall value is very high. The recent example we have is that of DNA, where the entire brand has been built through outdoor and in a very short span they have been able to make their mark.

Q. Which are the creative outdoor advertisements that you personally like? Also give reasons why you like them.

First and foremost is Amul because of its highly creative topical campaigns. More recently, it would be DNA because of its size and frequency. Also, I would like to mention FedEx which, in terms of strategy for utilizing OOH media, has really been good. They have used OOH very smartly in the required area with the best possible use of innovation through the medium.

Q. Is outdoor strong only in the metros?

On the contrary, it is the other way round. The reason is that there are other media options available in metros, but as you go deeper into the country, I think outdoor and billboards are the easiest media available to advertisers.

Q. What do you think needs to be done to foster the outdoor industry?

The biggest need is to be on a common platform to address common issues which we are all facing in terms of bringing more accountability to the medium and elevating it to bring it at par with other mediums. As a first step we have formed IOAAA and all key agencies are part of it. In addition to this, repetitive events like OAC will also help us.

Q. How has technology contributed to the industry?

Technology has already played a significant role and while there is a long way to go from where we are standing to where we want to go, technology will keep contributing to the medium. To give you an example, just 10 years back, 80-90 per cent of outdoor work was hand-painted, but during the last 5-7 years, digital printing has taken over and in a couple of years’ time we will find that we will land up paying more charges for hand-painted stuff than digitally printed work. The important point is that we have to think how it can work best for the medium. In short, we have a long way to go and technology is going to play a major role in it.

Q. How do you see the environmentalists’ opposition to felling of trees for putting up billboards?

We all live in this society and are aware of our responsibility towards nature. We are committed to the preservation of nature and betterment of the environment and are conscious enough to take care of all this.

Q. Which is the formal regulatory body for the outdoor medium that players can address their concerns to?

IOAAA can be one such body. At the media owners’ end they have formed an association for all representatives known as the Outdoor Media Owners Association.

Q. How important is research for outdoor? What is the current state of affairs and what needs to be done?

Research will help us justify our ROI through a better scientific approach. It will help elevate the medium and bring it at par with other media. Currently, there are individual players having their individual research tools. Unfortunately, there is not a single syndicated research tool available – so there are always questions asked over individual research. One of the major reasons for setting up IOAAA is also to address this issue and we are in the process of setting up a professional research agency which will frame the initial benchmark. Most of the key players are part of this association and we all will work towards getting it accepted.

Q. Outdoor – the path ahead. Comment.

Well, the path ahead is accountability, technology and providing support on ROI to our clients. Many technologies are available. It’s only when they are used with a proper strategy which will enable clients to meet their marketing objectives would the technology be of use. Technology is not sufficient, as you have to know how best to use it.

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