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OOH Interviews

M Kumar

General Manager, Brand Development | 03 Jun 2008

If one takes into account that the time is not too far when the medium can interact with the TG on a real-time basis thanks to Bluetooth/IR technology, it would offer results that could be tracked and passed on to clients. In that sense, OOH has stormed their bastion and is able to offer ROI that is measurable. It is, therefore, not surprising that you now see a lot many brands hitherto focussing on ATL apportioning a major chunk of their advertising monies on OOH.

M Kumar began his career 17 years ago with a five-year sales stint at Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd. This was followed by two years with Radio Mid-Day and another two years with HMV FM. The transition to marketing happened during his stints with PepsiCo and Club Mahindra, where he spent four years each. He then joined Taco MobiApps Telematics Ltd, a company with interests in GPS-based vehicle tracking solutions, as Head of Marketing.

Over the last year and a half, Kumar came on board Jagran Engage as General Manager-Brand Development. His current responsibilities include handling Marcom activity for brand Engage as well as key account management.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha, Kumar gives a bird’s eye view of the OOH advertising market in India and also does some crystal gazing on future trends.

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

Driven by the popularity of out-of-home lifestyles and the ensuing effectiveness of the outdoor media, the global market is expected to reach around $30 billion by 2010. In comparison, the India OOH business is expected to be around $0.5 billion by 2010. Major and mature markets like Europe, the US and Japan are now reaching a plateau, while emerging markets like the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa will drive future growth. The Asia-Pacific region is the second fastest growing area with an average growth rate of 8.8 per cent for 2008, with China and India leading the way. Regulations in India would play a key role in the development of the sector.

Q. What are your future plans for Jagran Engage?

As far as media vehicles are concerned, towards the end of the last financial year, we started marketing new formats of street furniture in Mumbai (3x3, four-sided glow cubes, 6x3, double-sided kiosks), LEDs and flyovers (four) in Bangalore to begin with, and depending on opportunities elsewhere, we will be keen to scale it up. Going forward, Jagran Engage will provide clients high impact, low cost access to Tier II and III markets. We will also look at replicating technology used worldwide to enable our mediums interact on real time basis with the TG. There will be additional emphasis on transit media and street furniture.

Q. What kind of innovations are you planning in Bangalore?

For starters, we have partnered with the Bangalore Mahanagar Palike (BMP) and have done extensive landscaping around the flyovers, so in that sense they are in principle more innovative as compared to flyovers in any market. Secondly, we have also toyed with different sizes as opposed to standard sizes offered elsewhere. Hence, the options available are ‘different’. However, we feel that this is a new medium and requires some gestation period for it to grow on the advertisers. Currently, it is being used with a bias on branding as a primary communication mode. Making it text heavy would only clutter the medium. Talks are on with a few clients with innovations being suggested and we are optimistic that some innovations would be carried out soon.

Q. Jagran Engage is planning to increase footprint in the Hindi heartland and has bagged the sole hoarding rights in Aligarh. Could you share your plans there?

In line with our promise to offer access to Tier II and III markets, we now offer exclusive rights to OOH media in Aligarh. Right now, we are suggesting some innovations to clients and are hoping that they would be executed soon.

Q. What are the major changes taking place in the outdoor space currently?

Technology advancements are leading to innovations in signage and outdoor displays, such as hi-fi displays, plasma screens, ‘magic ink’, LEDs, digital displays and electronic kiosks with interactive touch-sensitive screens. In addition, continuous innovations are also helping expand outdoor advertising spaces. Marketers today wield the flexibility to display their outdoor advertisements in a variety of public places like point-of-purchase, newsstands, bus stops, washrooms, airports, subways and public transportation. This is directly translating into a marked increase in OOH advertising expenditures and conversely a rise in the number of outdoor advertising contracts signed. Digital printing, on the other hand, has emerged as a major driver propelling growth in outdoor advertising since it extends advertisers the flexibility to quickly and cost-efficiently change outdoor ads. All of these factors, among several others, lay a strong foundation for future growth by strengthening the perceived effectiveness of the reach, frequency, and cost efficiency of outdoor advertising.

Q. What is the current size of the OOH industry?

We reckon the current size to be at Rs 1,400 crore, excluding retail. Growth is at 16 per cent CAGR. Trends forecast by media consulting giants suggest that they are bullish on a sustainable growth for the OOH sector.

Q. There have been numerous talks on the need for tracking in the OOH sector. What is your take on this?

Need for tracking spends in any media is paramount in today’s times. OOH is no exception. Traditionally speaking, clients and advertisers have been spending on TV and print since both the media offer data to substantiate their effectiveness. Today, with a whole lot of fragmentation and launch of channels and publications genre wise, and the fact that TG is in a position to surf channels or is spending less time reading a broadsheet, it is becoming difficult to put a finger on the effectiveness. Compare this to the OOH medium, where the message is in-your-face, leaving no chance to be ignored. The better the creative, the stronger is the interactivity and, therefore, more effective.

If one takes into account that the time is not too far when the medium can interact with the TG on a real-time basis thanks to Bluetooth/IR technology, it would offer results that could be tracked and passed on to clients. In that sense, OOH has stormed their bastion and is able to offer ROI that is measurable. It is, therefore, not surprising that you now see a lot many brands hitherto focussing on ATL apportioning a major chunk of their advertising monies on OOH.

We at Jagran Engage are offering tremendous transparency to advertisers through our web-based tools to plan and track their OOH campaigns and spends. We additionally offer our toll free number as a tool that could be integrated with their message and tangibly offer leads.

Q. What is your view on advertising in radio cabs?

As an OOH option, radio cabs have done very well in markets such as New York, London, and South-East Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Dubai. Though they have been in operation in South India (Chennai and Hyderabad, for instance), its commercialisation has been delayed. Its single biggest USP so far has been to ferry passengers on time within the city. However, with the advent of some progressive companies, this kind of mobile media in India is now coming into its own. It is early days yet and the challenges to sustain and make this a very effective option would require some hard thinking on part of these companies. For starters, achieving critical mass is a challenge, the number of players offering this media needs to grow with emphasis on good customer orientation. Building interactivity between the passenger and the branding would be a key one – and for this, in addition to external branding, the companies would need to offer communication / content inside the cabs that would attract undivided attention from the passenger. There is talk on offering LCD screens in the back portions that apparently sounds exciting. In the years ahead, continuous value adds from the companies offering the media would need to be done to sustain the interest levels of the TG.

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