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Gour Gupta

COO | 01 Dec 2009

Outdoor today is being seen as much better organised than what it used to be a decade back. Delhi itself has had some kind of regulation coming into effect, which has helped the cause of outdoor advertising. I don’t think the government is being negligent about it, but I would say they are waking up to the fact that outdoor could be a great revenue earner for them. At the end of the day, media owners have to self regulate if this business has to survive long enough and move towards becoming a more organised and professional industry.

Gour Gupta began his career with Modern Suitings. He then moved to Pantaloon Fashions, based in Delhi. He switched his career consciously to outdoor advertising and joined Selevel-Vantage Group. After spending around two years on the media owner side, Gupta decided to move on to the agency side of the business and joined Portland India (a JV between JWT India and Portland UK) as a buying executive, moving up to becoming the General Manager of Portland India, which came under the management control of WPP’s Kinetic Worldwide in 2006.

In 2007, he joined Platinum Outdoor, a specialist OOH unit of Madison World as Chief Operating Officer. Some of the brands that he has worked with include Samsung, Airtel, Maruti, GM, Idea cellular, ITC and Pepsi, among others.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha Kashyup, Gupta speaks about Platinum’s growth, the outdoor media scene in India today, and the agency’s future plans.

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

Outdoor continues to play a more important role in the advertisers’ marketing plans given the clutter in traditional media like print and TV. Whilst some sectors like telecom, financial and media sectors have used outdoor to their advantage, many others haven’t, because media agencies were not convinced or were not alive to the opportunities that outdoor can offer. Hence, we decided to exploit this out-of-home opportunity. Platinum Outdoor was launched on January 12, 2007.

Q. Has the slowdown affected your company? What measures have you taken to counter the slowdown effects?

The slowdown mainly affected us on the outdoor part of the business. The other verticals gained from it as budgets were diverted towards activation and retail. In fact, we could see it coming and hence, we concentrated on focussing on our key clients and the effort was towards growing the business organically.

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

We have been hearing about technology coming to India in the OOH domain, but I think we have not seen anything on a large scale. I believe digital billboards or LED screens would definitely come in a big way. We have been able to put up one in Delhi for our client Samsung, which has received tremendous positive response from all quarters of the industry, and also the first single client LED display for our client Idea in Kolkata.

Q. What are the challenges that you are facing here?

I think regulations would be a major hindrance as there are several authorities involved and any one department could pose a challenge to the effective running of the screen.

Q. What are the major innovations that you have seen in the outdoor medium in recent times?

The list is large to cover. To name a few would be the one we had done for our client Samsung, wherein we converted a bus shelter into a lounge, and surely, the most amazing was the media innovation on a site in Delhi, which was converted into a static LED display. Also, the recent idea ‘Walk and Talk’ communication saw innovation that expressed the concept well in outdoors, especially the neon walk effect.

Q. Outdoor media has seen the entry of some big players in recent times. How do you plan to beat the competition?

Yes, recently there have been some big players from the media owner side and agency business. From the media owner side, I would say that JC Decaux and Times OOH are serious in the long term. From the agency business perspective, a couple of them have set up second, or even a third unit, thus making the environment competitive. However, we will continue to succeed.

Q. Who are your major clients in India?

Some of our major clients would be Samsung, ITC, Pepsi, GM, Asian Paints, Dell, P&G, Idea Cellular, and Godrej Sara Lee, among others.

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

There is no official source that tracks outdoor spends, but we would estimate it should be around Rs 1,400 crore this year.

Q. When we talk about regulation, has this issue been raised strongly enough? Why is the government being so negligent about it? What kind of innovations can we look forward to?

There has been a serious improvement in this area. Outdoor today is being seen as much better organised than what it used to be a decade back. Delhi itself has had some kind of regulation coming into effect, which has helped the cause of outdoor advertising. I don’t think the government is being negligent about it, but I would say they are waking up to the fact that outdoor could be a great revenue earner for them. At the end of the day, media owners have to self regulate if this business has to survive long enough and move towards becoming a more organised and professional industry.

Q. What are your future plans?

As far as our business objectives are concerned, we would focus on building our capability efficiency, meet clients’ changing needs and consolidate our business with our existing clients. In addition, we also have new business acquisition plans. Together, this would we help us achieve a double digit growth in the coming years.

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