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OOH Interviews

Hiyav Bajaj

Director | 29 Mar 2012

“Airport retail business in India has undergone a substantial and rapid growth in the last few years, and this means two things. First, the number of passengers has gone up and second, the innovative ads at the airports are really attracting passengers to buy those products. This will augur well for OOH businesses this year, provided the advertisers are ready to take advantage of the rapidly changing profile of the air traveler in India. They should realise that today’s air travelers are not limited to the high flyer category, but belongs to a category that covers a broad range of decision-makers with real purchase capabilities.”

As the Director of TDI International, Hiyav Bajaj has brought to the company a positive approach, knowledge of modern techniques, never-ending quest for perfection and the desire to make sure that clients get more than they ask for.

Bajaj received his master’s degree in accounting, finance and management from Bradford University and is a commerce graduate of Delhi University, with a specialisation in cost accounting, economics, and finance/tax.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Bajaj speaks at length about the evolution of airport advertising, newer industry verticals using this medium, opportunities in the coming year and more...

Q. What is the most important factor when trying to connect to the target audience through OOH?

For a perfect and meaningful connect with the audience, it is essential to thoroughly understand the audience psyche. The perfect match of their needs and your product is the key. And then you have to use innovative techniques to convey to your target audience that your product matches their needs.

Q. How different is OOH today compared to a few years ago?

OOH as the oldest modus operandi of promoting a brand, has come a long way. However, it is still not as systematic and organised when it comes to ‘on the ground’ execution. Apart from airport and malls, OOH in India continues to suffer. For optimum utilisation, the industry needs to have a more effective association of OOH vendors in the country that can provide some structure and a networked database to the vendors. Such a database can help buyers find out if a particular site still exists and is in good shape.

Q. What do you think needs to be done to push the Indian OOH industry forward?

OOH still continues to be the BTL /support advertising medium. It does not get the emphasis it deserves at the planning stage. Although the situation has somewhat improved over the last few years, the proportion of OOH continues to be as low as five per cent of the overall advertising budgets. As it is known, the total ad spends in 2011 was Rs 30,000 crore, of which outdoor was Rs 1,500 crore, just five per cent of the pie.

Q. How would you compare India’s OOH industry to the global scenario, especially in the airport space?

We have been successful in ensuring that the OOH medium catches up with global standards. Today, India is in no way lacking in the airport advertising domain. However, we need to do better when it comes to digital technology and interactive ads.

Q. With the airport retail business in India touching $1 billion in revenue in 2011, how does the opportunity look like this year?

Airport retail business in India has undergone a substantial and rapid growth in the last few years, and this means two things. First, the number of passengers has gone up and second, the innovative ads at the airports are really attracting passengers to buy those products. This will augur well for OOH businesses this year, provided the advertisers are ready to take advantage of the rapidly changing profile of the air traveler in India. They should realise that today’s air travelers are not limited to the high flyer category, but belongs to a category that covers a broad range of decision-makers with real purchase capabilities.

Q. How has the execution of the airport advertising business evolved so far?

The last few years have seen a revolutionary change in airport advertising concepts and we have been active contributors to this phenomenon. We have managed to keep pace with international trends. Today, the changes that you see in airport advertising are due to larger airports, bigger formats, brilliant innovations, and new technologies such as bluetooth, etc. The execution has become much faster and efficient. To give you an example, TDI’s pan-India turnaround time for launch capability has been as low as 17 hours.

Q. According to you, which are the brands that have made interesting and innovative use of airport space? Do you think these brands will increase airport advertising spends in the coming year?

Brands such as Kingdom of Dreams, Hyundai, Tata Photon, Intel, ING Vysya, Microsoft, Shell, and Uninor, etc. have made good use of the OOH medium. I do believe that these brands will increase ad spends. Spends will also be increased by some of the advertisers who had not realised the potential and opportunities offered by airport advertising till very recently. These include banks, insurance companies, public sector undertakings, and also India’s tourism ministry, which so far has failed to tap the excellent avenues offered by Goa and Kochi airports to promote India’s exotic tourist spots.

Q. Can you talk about some key trends that you have witnessed in the OOH space?

Apart from innovations in hardware, the profile of advertisers has also broadened. We have seen newer verticals entering the airport space. Companies in the real estate, automobile, banking and now even city-specific businesses are advertising at airports.

When it comes to technology, the latest trend in airport advertising is the use of the cutting-edge digital technology, which in India has been a little slow. Digital ads have the capability to change the content instantly from a remote location. This is a radical transformation. Outdoor ad companies such as ours are seeing great results from the interactive displays installed in a number of airports.

Q. What will the penetration of digital OOH bring to the industry?

We need more digital innovations in the industry and our digital team is busy in developing better displays for our present and future customers. If used properly and smartly, digital OOH can add a whole new dimension to the industry.

Q. Please elaborate on your client profile.

We have several international and national brands in our client portfolio. Our client list includes Audi, Hyundai, Maruti, Jindal Steel, Siemens, Weston, GQ, Vogue, Videocon, Air India, American Center, Sage Publications, musical concert organisers – Only Much Louder, etc.

Q. What are your plans for 2012?

Our plan for 2012 is to optimise returns from our existing assets. We will keep our eyes open for new exciting opportunities.

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