OOH Interviews

Atul Rai

Chief Operating Officer | 28 Jan 2005

“Print and TV are much more expensive mediums than outdoors. Another advantage that OOH enjoys is the higher brand recall. It is also a more cost-effective media in today’s scenario.”

Working with Ads Advertising for about nine years, Atul Rai has become integral to the company’s operations. Rai started his career with Yellow Pages in 1987 and then moved for a short stint with Modi Telecom in 1991. He was with Adino Telecom Ltd. before joining Ads Advertising in 1997.

Ads Advertising is a company providing Out-Of-Home (OOH) solutions to clients with seven offices and a workforce of 120 people. In India, the company introduced the concept of backlit sky balloons, walking inflatables, etc. It moved on to set up offices in Dubai and Sharjah.

Rai has contributed immensely in taking the organisation to where it stands today. In an interview with Sakshi Talwar of exchange4media, Rai shares the twists and turns of the industry. Excerpts:

Q. Can you give us some background about your business?

Ads Advertising is a 13-year-old company primarily focusing on out-of-home solutions. Other than press and TV, we are into everything, including retail, road shows, outdoors, POS management, merchandising, etc. One major advantage with outdoors is that you know your target group and also the money at your disposal, and thus you can blast the city and get the best results.

The maximum revenue generator for us is retail, outdoor and road shows. In retail, we create shops-within-shops for clients. We pick up corners within shops and display sub-products. For example, we have done the branding within shops for Acer. So the customer asks for the product that is displayed. This automatically pushes the product without the dealer actually pushing it. A lot of research work and innovation goes behind it.

Q. How is outdoor perceived as an advertising tool compared to print and TV? How effective is this medium?

Print and TV are much more expensive mediums than outdoors. Another advantage that OOH enjoys is the higher brand recall. It is also a more cost-effective media in today’s scenario. Media planners have nightmares deciding on the right channel, and right time slot, etc., but outdoors have made their task much simpler. It is also a very fast growing market and I think in the coming years it will overtake other mediums like print and television.

Q. A few years ago the Delhi government banned all outdoor hoardings and billboards. How did this affect the segment?

It gave us opportunity to do retail with clients. Since billboards were banned in Delhi, we approached Airtel in those days and proposed using shop signages. It gave us a lot of business and an opportunity to come up with more innovative ideas. Bus shelters and public utilities were exploited to the fullest, taking the rentals from Rs 2,000 to as high as Rs 50,000. And if one looks at the overall picture in the country today, the volumes in outdoors are increasing day by day.

Q. Can you detail us on your client portfolio?

We cater to a vast and varied product range. Some of our clients are Canon, Philips, McDowells, Tata Tea, ING Vysya Life Insurance, Acer and Indian Oil to name a few. Canon and McDowells comprise our biggest clients. For Canon we are doing outdoors like billboards, hoardings, bus shelters, campaigns, etc., whereas with McDowells we are doing outdoors plus a lot of products launches.

Q. What is the process you go through to acquire a client and how do you carry it forward?

We go in for a pitch and make a plan for the client called Plan A, which is purely an outdoor advertising campaign based on the client brief. We also forward a second plan called Plan B, where we give ideas to the client that will enable him to get more mileage. For instance, we suggest to the client to spend money on billboards and outdoors or stretch the value of the rupee to a year -- rather than two months -- by doing a lot of stuff at the retail level. We get a centralised budget from the client for a city; then our teams visit the area, meet local area managers and identify locations which will give best visibility to the client. Outdoor advertising proves to be quite effective.

Q. What are your company’s billings today?

We offer a host of options to our clients and that is one reason we are growing rapidly. From almost negligible billings in 1992, we have come a long way with our innovation and cost-effective methods to a billing of Rs 25 crore, which has certainly not been an easy task.

Q. How has outdoor advertising evolved over the years?

The perception of media managers has changed. Earlier outdoor advertising was considered only when they had money to spare. Today things are changing. Over the years, the growth pattern in our country has been totally different. We do a lot of innovations that can drive products into homes and drawing rooms. We use a lot of backlit mobile kiosks which also helps boost employment.

Q. What are the limitations to this medium, if any?

There is no limitation as such. In fact, we have innovative media that works alongside the television campaigns. Consistency between TV and outdoor campaign accounts for a higher brand recall. If a campaign is displayed on outdoors in the form of cutouts, etc,, the beauty of the campaign comes back to you.

Q. What are the other innovations likely to be witnessed in this segment?

Innovations are happening by the day. There are a lot of innovations due to happen on signages, POS, etc., which will take outdoor advertising to a new level.

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