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OOH Interviews

Sanjay Yashroy

President | 06 Jul 2006

Digital is the way forward. Having said that, it is also true that it calls for large investments. Only a company with global bearings or a player with sufficiently deep pockets can cash in on this trend. Two forces are in play – on one hand, there is consolidation happening, and on the other, global players are infusing a quantum change. Together, these two developments will determine the course of the OOH medium.

Having attained his MBA from London Business School following post-graduation in Marketing from Nagpur University as a rank holder, Sanjay Yashroy started his career in 1990 with Contract Advertising in New Delhi as a Management Trainee. He was then with the Ministry of Finance for about five years, before moving to consulting. His next stop was Star India which he joined in 2003 as Vice-president, Strategic Planning & Business Development, in the Distribution division.

Yashroy thereafter moved to the Percept Group after a stint as CEO with Encorp E-Services Ltd, a pioneer in the digital media and online gaming space in India. He joined Posterscope India as President in April 2006. In an interview with exchange4media’s Saurabh Niranjan Turakhia, Yashroy discusses the ills hampering the growth of the OOH medium and suggests the way ahead. Excerpts:

Q. How do you see the Indian OOH industry today? What is its current size?

The Indian OOH industry is poised to grow well. There is no doubt about it. Even markets like Delhi have opened up and are looking at the medium positively. Apart from this, there are a few more visible trends in the industry. For one, global players are entering India (Clear Channel, JC Decaux). While consolidation will happen at its own pace, what will happen earlier is that the quality of OOH solutions will improve. The next trend that I foresee in the space is that digital is fast making inroads. More and more LCD and plasma screens are seen around offices and in multiplexes.

Figures vary on the issue of the size of the industry. It is estimated to be anywhere between Rs 1,500 crore and Rs 5,000 crore. I would put it at anywhere between Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,000 crore. It will continue to grow at a rate of more than 15 per cent for the next 3-4 years, while traditional media will grow at a slower pace.

Q. It is said that measurability and hence, ROI is an issue with the OOH medium. Comment.

Yes, measurability is an issue with the OOH medium. The problem is that while print medium has ABC, NRS and IRS, and television has TAM, the OOH industry has no such measurement device in place. While individual companies have come up with their own models, the absence of data makes such tools limited in their applicability. The OOH industry development has been haphazard and individual media owners have been exercising their influences. So, they resist such organised moves. This also explains why media planners don’t show confidence in the medium. The client has a right to know about ROI, but the lack of data and measurability works against the medium.

Q. Please throw some light on your proprietary tools.

We have quite a few proprietary tools actually. We have Orbit for 360-degree service delivery. Then there is Prism, which has a bunch of industry leading tools for improving effectiveness and efficiency of OOH campaigns. Horizons is a dedicated tool for better accountability. Hyperspace explores and creates new OOH channels.

As far as Orbit is concerned, the focus is to manage the entire cycle – right from the client’s brief to feedback. It intends to make this whole process more scientific, efficient and streamlined.

Prism has 12 tools in all, of which three are currently tailored for India. Lack of availability of data comes in the way of implementation of the rest of the tools.

Horizons is a dedicated tool, not yet officially launched in India. It is an important tool that is used globally, but again, since the medium lacks availability of data, it cannot be effectively used.

Hyperspace focuses on innovation in OOH. It works on the concept of experiential marketing in captive formats. So, for example, in malls and multiplexes, there can be an entire X-Box zone that would give the consumer a real experience. Hyperspace aims to help with such innovative solutions.

Q. What are the technological advances that the medium is witnessing?

I must say that digital is the way forward. Having said that, it is also true that it calls for large investments. Only a company with global bearings or a player with sufficiently deep pockets can cash in on this trend. Even after making substantial investments, such players can hope to make money after a few years, which would form the gestation period.

Two forces are in play – on one hand, there is consolidation happening, and on the other, global players are infusing a quantum change. Together, these two developments will determine the course of the OOH medium.

Q. How has Posterscope India’s performance been so far and what are your objectives for the current year?

Posterscope India has grown significantly in the past one year. As on December 31, 2005, it grew 36 per cent over the previous year. We are on target this year as well and will achieve it in all likelihood.

Q. Do you see any indirect threat from newer media like the Internet?

The tremendous rise and growth of the Internet medium notwithstanding, I think that traditional and new media will grow together. OOH will definitely benefit with the big boom in the retail sector. Despite claims that the Internet medium offers more measurability, I am not sure about the effectiveness of the medium. I think that the OOH medium is not far behind and its sheer visual power gives it an edge. OOH makes it easier to put some science and ensure measurability as one can figure out how many people pass through a location or how much traffic it attracts.

Q. Do you think campaigns like that of Amul can boost the OOH industry?

Yes, definitely. I think that the OOH medium, as it stands today, is highly underutilised. Amul has endured over the years and decades. It has become a habit to eagerly wait every Monday morning and look at the new Amul hoarding. Such campaigns and activities definitely work towards the growth of the medium.

Q. Do you think that individual proprietary tools are better than a common industry standard?

It would not be fair to make a comparison here for the reason that there is an absence of data and no common industry standard. It is in the interest of every individual player to have a common currency, a common measurement tool. They keep saying at conferences that such a measure would be in place, but the process gets stuck owing to individual egos.

Q. Tell us a little about innovations in the OOH medium.

I feel innovation is not just about announcing a mega campaign or being all over the place. I think it is about simplicity which also manages to capture attention. It is about relevance as well. While technology can be used for innovation, unfortunately it becomes a commodity too soon. One has to redefine technology constantly in order to use it for innovation.

Q. How different is India from other markets worldwide?

India is extremely good in terms of innovation and relationships. However, it lags far behind in terms of consolidation, standardisation, research, industry data, etc.

Q. What is the share of OOH in a media plan?

The share of OOH is miniscule in a media plan. Still, a lot of planners are not considering the medium for known reasons of measurability issues. Even if we have a not-so-scientific tool in place, it will help. However, not having even that makes the growth of the medium difficult.

Q. What can be done to further boost the OOH industry?

I strongly feel that the industry players have to get together. They have to shed corporate pride and hold hands for common issues concerning the medium. While we will compete at a micro level, there is a need at a macro level to look at the bigger picture and get rid of the issues plaguing the industry. Unless this happens, the development of the medium will be inhibited.

Q. What are the new innovations that Posterscope India is working on?

We have a variety of clients like Samsung, Canon, FedEx, Bank of Baroda, WorldSpace, Mother Dairy, etc., and we keep developing innovative solutions for them. For example, for Samsung’s True-to-Life campaign, we got a professional mountain climber hanging from a billboard site, giving it truly a ‘true to life’ feel.

Q. Do you think that there are certain segments that benefit more from the OOH medium compared to others?

There are certain categories that are more suited to the OOH medium. For example, the automotive sector, CTV players, durables, and impulse driven products can use the medium more effectively than others. Ditto for technology products. The sheer visual power of the medium gels well with these segments.

Q. What, according to you, is the way ahead?

I am more anxious about the state of the industry. The industry challenges are quite big and I would like to use this platform to call all industry players to get together and address such issues quickly.

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