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Andrew Atherton

Consultant | 08 Sep 2011

The development of digital has really changed the potential of Outdoor. The flexibility associated with digital (that is, day-part, interaction, posting…) has allowed clients far greater potential to use the medium for their needs. Also, the consolidation in ownership has created large global companies who then have the necessary investment to help continue such developments and help to optimise their potential. Both of these are still very new to the Indian market, and what digital developments have taken place seems to have lacked the correct investment – but I expect this to change in the very near future.

Andrew Atherton, a consultant at Outdoor Advertising Professionals Pvt Ltd (OAP), is an expert in the domain of working in various aspects of outdoor advertising like research, training, and alternate outdoor. He started his career at an advertising agency Mills & Allen Ltd, UK, learning the poster, IT and desktop publishing skills, and proceeded as Service Manager of the company, managing the complete building inventory for all new poster sites.

With an experience of over 20 years in the field of outdoor advertising media, Atherton’s best project is for Titan Outdoor Advertising agency through which he introduced a new analytical and mapping technique to optimise the inventory.

With an experience of over two decades, Atherton conducts training and system development workshops in OAP. He also gives media currencies used to trade in the buying & planning of media and how specifically this can relate to the Outdoor market place. With the help of various audience measurement systems that exist in the Outdoor market, he develops a USP for OAP to use within India that will help with their planning and buying.

In this interaction with exchange4media’s Shanta Saikia, Atherton shares the latest developments in the outdoor advertising space, the various measurement systems, training programmes and more...

Q. When did you come on board as consultant at Outdoor Advertising Professionals?

I have been assisting Outdoor Advertising Professionals (I) Pvt Ltd (OAP) on a couple of projects over the last few months, but it is only now that I am beginning to get a better understanding of how OAP works and the areas that I feel I can be of assistance.

Q. Which other agencies/ organisations have you been associated with before this?

I have been associated with POSTAR in the UK over the last 15 years, but as the representative for the companies that I was working with at the time.

Q. What have been the key milestones/ developments in the outdoor advertising industry in the over two decades that you have been associated with it?

I see two main developments over the last two decades. Yes, there have been other developments such as formalising posting calendars and the like, but the two key ones I think have been the overall accountability and transparency of the planning & buying side of the business, and then the onset and ‘explosion’ of the digital offerings from the media owners.

Q. How has the outdoor advertising industry changed globally over the years? What are the key trends seen today? How much of catching up does the Indian outdoor advertising industry have to do?

Again, the development of digital has really changed the potential of Outdoor. The flexibility associated with digital (that is, day-part, interaction, posting…) has allowed clients far greater potential to use the medium for their needs. Also, the consolidation in ownership has created large global companies who then have the necessary investment to help continue such developments and help to optimise their potential. Both of these are still very new to the Indian market, and what digital developments have taken place seems to have lacked the correct investment – but I expect this to change in the very near future.

Q. What are the main growth drivers for the outdoor advertising industry today? What are the major challenges, key issues that concern the industry today?

Dare I say digital again? Whilst the potential is starting to show advertisers the real opportunities Outdoor offers them to engage with their consumers, there will still be further developments that advertisers will want to very much use. The biggest concern continues to be transparency to clients, and the role that specialist agencies like Kinetic & Posterscope are paid for.

Q. What are the key differentiating factors between the Indian outdoor advertising industry and the industry globally?

Like with many aspects, India is playing catch up with the more data-rich planning countries like the UK. But the potential is there, and catch up they will!

Q. You had introduced an analytical and mapping technique for Titan Outdoor Advertising agency. Could you elaborate on it – what was it all about, what necessitated it, has it been replicated for other clients, what was the measurability factor?

Mapping/ GIS techniques allowed the accurate mapping of inventory. This, in turn, allowed many proximity-based briefs to be more accurately planned, as well targeting using consumer profiling type databases.

Q. What are the major audience measurement systems that exist in the outdoor market today? Please elaborate a bit on them.

There are three main measurement systems – MOVE in Australia, Eyes On in the US, and POSTAR in the UK. All three use sophisticated models to measure actual eyes on posters, rather than rely on gross. OTS figures are still used by other media. Now they also cover the majority of their respective Outdoor markets – bringing in formats in many other Outdoor environments.

Q. Please tell us about the media currencies used to trade in the buying and planning of media, and how specifically they relate to the outdoor market place?

Most other media trade on audiences and then negotiate on the cost-per-thousand. The three measurement systems mentioned above now allow similar trading for the Outdoor medium as well, rather than relying on numbers of panels and price per panel.

Q. Could you tell us about the USP that you have developed for OAP to use within India for their planning and buying?

It is still very much in development and does require a good element of understanding of the Indian market. Which is one of the main reasons for coming out to India – so I can better understand the market place over here, and OAP can better understand my ideas and help develop them.

Q. How do you devise your training programmes? How are you extending your training to outdoor professionals in India?

My training programmes are very much based on my experience of having worked on many research projects and planning systems, on both the buying side and selling side of the industry.

Q. Please share more about the various research projects that you have been associated with or have undertaken yourself.

Industry-wise, I was involved with POSTAR’s predecessor in the UK – OSCAR – again as the company’s representative on the various committees. With POSTAR, I have also been heavily involved with all of the various committees of varying times, and then there have been many individual company based projects. These range from various basic awareness studies to major research projects, helping to develop the companies’ key planning tools.

Q. In your long career, could you share five work/ clients that you had worked on that had been challenging, but at the same time very rewarding...

There have been many, but some that have been rewarding because they have helped develop new strategies. These include the COI, Norwich Union and Kelloggs.

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