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Ishan Raina

CEO | 14 Apr 2008

The Indian OOH Industry is still unorganised and quite fragmented, and though there is no official calculation, it is guesstimated to be around Rs 2,000 crore static and digital inclusive. Currently, people buy locations, but with research, the play would evolve to tracking audiences. The end game has to be about audiences and not about locations.

An advertising veteran with over 20 years' experience, Ishan Raina is currently CEO of Out-of-Home Media (India) Pvt Ltd. An MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, Raina has lent his management expertise to several advertising agencies, including Lowe and Contract Advertising.

In 1995, at age 37, he became the Founder-CEO & Joint-venture Partner of Euro RSCG Advertising Worldwide. In 1996, Business India selected him as one of the top 50 influential Indians under 40. From 1998 to 2006, he served as Chairman and CEO of the Euro RSCG Group in India. He has also been a board member of Euro RSCG Asia Pacific and a member of the Executive Committee of Euro RSCG Worldwide. He still serves as Chairman of MPG India (Havas Media) and Connecturf, India's online media solutions company.

In conversation with exchange4media's Pallavi Goorha, Raina shares his vision for OOH Media and throws some light on the out-of-home industry in India.

Q. When and what made OOH Media enter the Indian outdoor scene?

Out-of-Home Media started as I and our investor, 3i, saw the incredible success of Focus Media China. We also felt that India was ready for a large entrant company in this space, given the phenomenal rise of real estate projects in the country and the increasing amount of time Indian consumers spent out of home for work, leisure, and shopping. Reduction of time spent on traditional media and media fragmentation are other major contributing factors that made the medium of digital out-of-home even more significant.

Q. How many screens does OOH Media have?

We have 4,500 live screens, which is about 70 per cent of the total installed base in the market and 5,500 contracted screens as of now across 23 cities in India.

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

I think the challenge in the near term would be to help clients/agencies understand through research what kind of creative ideas give maximum returns for this captive audience. In the medium term, the role of technology in backend would increase as some players attempt convergence with OOH LCD TV screens. The challenge here would be to do this with scale; there would be a lot of laboratory experiments and presentations on future possibilities, but leadership would come to those who can execute and walk the talk.

Q. How big is the outdoor advertising industry? What is the share of OOH in the total advertising industry?

The Indian OOH Industry is still unorganised and quite fragmented, and though there is no official calculation, it is guesstimated to be around Rs 2,000 crore static and digital inclusive. This comprises billboards, mobile vans and airport media. It is expected to grow up to Rs 5,000 crore in the coming few years, expected to be led by digital OOH media especially. By 2010, if the ad industry grows to Rs 35,000 crore, size of digital OOH TV would be between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of the ad industry. About 70 per cent of this would belong to two national players and we hope to continue being the leaders of digital OOH TV industry. Also, growth of the medium would not be just being in scale of the medium, but advertiser understanding of the medium as well. Currently, people buy locations, but with research the play would evolve to tracking audiences. The end game has to be about audiences and not about locations.

Q. Has the issue of regulation been raised strongly enough? Why is the Government being so negligent about it?

Regulations are not an issue. We will voluntarily comply with Government broadcast rules and adhere to them even though our fundamental practice of airing is ‘flexicast’ and not broadcast.

Q. How do you compare the Indian outdoor advertising industry with the global market?

India will make its own way in digital OOH TV. The only true comparison in the global market is China, because there are two common factors between them and us – viz., huge population and difficult to reach audiences (media dark audiences). But even here, there would be some differences in certain aspects, for example, we have presence in BPO and IT parks, etc., which is a very Indian phenomenon. So, there are few comparisons that can actually be made as each country and the market circumstances are different and the media market is very much dependent of these factors.

Q. Please share more about your media planning tool ‘flexicasting’.

OOH Media, being the largest player in this medium, is an OOH TV media house and not merely about digital screens at consumer locations. We are an advertising medium more than a consumers’ medium, so we aim to maximise advertiser’s benefits. We differentiate ourselves as a ‘thinking media house’, which adds value to the advertiser on our medium in terms of strategy and optimising his value on our medium. By ‘thinking’, we mean ‘intelligent’ and ‘serious’ players in this market who innovate, think beyond screens and offer value adds in this domain. Based on independent research conducted by Nielsen, we are translating the crucial insights and building intellectual capital.

With the onset of OOH TV as an advertising medium, the new tool/concept that has been created by OOH Media to maximise potential of this medium is called ‘flexicasting’. It is a media planning tool and a never before option to advertisers. Flexicasting offers an opportunity to slice and dice communication across various touch points, it is the only medium other than traditional local outdoor and local points of sale, which offers this flexibility. It is also the only medium to do so in an audio-visual format. Flexicasting can be defined as the ability and flexibility to telecast brand communication on OOH Media screens as per the advertisers’ choice of city, choice of location, choice of target audience, choice of frequency of exposures, choice of creative and choice of language. Flexicasting optimises advertisers’ money and avoids media spillage.

OOH Media has a huge depth and breadth of network comprising 4,300 screens as of April 2008. We have presence in 750 locations across 23 cities. Reach of over 55-60 million people monthly (working males and females, the influential head honcho, youth, the shopper, the floater, the movie buff, the bookworm, the fitness freak, the new age grooming lasses, and the list goes on). There are 90-plus advertisers on board currently. The OOH Work Network consists of locations such as corporate parks, commercial buildings, IT Parks, BPO, Kingfisher coaches, etc. The OOH Shop comprises malls, lifestyle stores, super markets and CSDs. The OOH Play Network consists of residential societies, gymnasiums, cafés, restaurants, multiplexes, bookshops, salons, clubs, etc.

Q. OOH Media has been roped in as the OOH TV partner for Corporate Olympics. Please tell us more about the partnership.

OOH Media has tried to make intelligent use of its media for brand-building initiatives. From prestigious cultural events like The Mumbai Festival 2008 to HNI events like the Mumbai International Boat Show 2008 to serious media events like the CNBC Emerging Awards 2008, OOH Media has partnered with these as the exclusive OOH TV partner. These initiatives render mutual benefit to OOH Media and the partners. Due to our robust network of 4,500 live screens in all relevant locations in 23 cities, we have the bandwidth to offer value and reach of over 55 million people monthly to them. We aim to strengthen our brand-building portfolio and even venture into class events like art, etc., in the near future.

Similarly, OOH Media has came on board as the exclusive OOH TV partner for a prestigious event like The Aditya Birla Group, Times of India Corporate Olympics (an initiative of Fountainhead Events and Promotions Pvt Ltd). The event was an inter-corporate sporting challenge encompassing a variety of team and individual sports contests such as golf, squash, chess, table tennis, bowling, paintball, telematches, etc. The concept of Corporate Olympics emerged from the insight that today’s executives jump at the chance to be part of a competitive atmosphere. Thus, a need was felt to create an effective work-life balance. Keeping this philosophy in mind, OOH Media felt a connect in terms of being a competitive and an action-oriented company. Their belief in ‘playing for winning’ and ‘fair play’ justifies the association. The partnership comprised OOH Media’s support in terms of promoting the event on its 900-plus screens in Mumbai at premier locations like corporate parks, ITES, malls, multiplexes, bookstores, and restaurants, etc. Due to its strong presence in other cities as well, OOH Media promoted the event in Delhi at select TG-centric locations.

Q. Who are your major clients in India?

Our advertisers comprise an array of various products and services ranging from media (INX, Sony), auto (Ford, GM, Maruti), finance (HDFC, MCX, Standard Chartered), FMCG (ITC Foods, Cadbury’s), telecommunication (Airtel, Nokia), real estate (Lodha, Royal Palms), and travel and tourism (Thomas Cook, Air Deccan), among others.

Q. What is the status of your partnership with Ad impact?

Ad impact is now a 100 per cent subsidiary of OOH Media.

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