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OOH Interviews

Vinkoo Chakraborty

Head, Planning & Strategy | 10 Apr 2013

I am a firm believer of ‘less is more’ paradigm. We can look at having lesser number of billboards with standardised sizes. OOH should get integrated in the fabric of the cityscape rather than creating visual pollution. Also, the look and feel of the billboards should have consistency across cities. Maybe consolidation is the key here.

Vinkoo Chakraborty currently works as the National Head for Planning and Strategy at Kinetic India. In her 14 years of professional journey, she has handled strategic planning, business development, marketing, communications and research. Prior to Kinetic, Chakraborty has worked with Hindustan Times, Aaren Initiative and JCDecaux. She has worked with brands like Hindustan Unilever, Neo Sports, Tata Motors, Fiat, Tata Indicom and Outlook.

In a conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Chakraborty speaks at length about things that the Indian outdoor landscape should learn from the global outdoor industry, what Kinetic India is looking forward to in the year ahead and more...

Q. OOH is going beyond being a recall medium to become a compulsive element of every media plan. What is your take on this recognition?

OOH as a mass advertising medium has been present for years. Whether as a political medium, an art form or for commercial brand communications, posters or billboards are an established and expected part of urban environment. The evolution for OOH has been gradual, but it has definitely become an integral part of most campaigns and plans.

OOH’s flexibility to scale up, be niche, differentiated, local, quick deployment, consumed within both open and close spaces ,easy integration with digital and mobile has led it to be an integral part of the media mix.

Apart from that, we have seen a lot of new options come up in the OOH space. The options have become highly refined in terms of capability and quality of delivery. Media owners are trying to consistently invest in upgrading and enhancing their site inventories. New formats have been launched; poster installations have gone hand-in-hand with investments in public utilities in few cities, which have helped improve urban environments.

New locations have been brought into the poster sector fold such as shopping malls and transport environments, and the presentation and impact of sites at existing locations such as airports and metro systems has been consistently upgraded.

This is a good trend for OOH, which needs to become a norm, and for working towards that, we all collectively in the OOH ecosystem need to create an agile network of 3 ‘I’s - ideas, infrastructure and investments - to support and augment the recognition.

Q. What are the factors that you keep in mind while planning an OOH campaign?

We consider various factors while planning an OOH campaign. Some of the factors are hygiene factors like understanding the complete media mix, role of OOH, brand objectives, category behaviour, competition heat, prioritisation of markets. We compliment these hygiene factors with our insights and planning capabilities using our proprietary tools to arrive at an optimal media strategy. We call this the ‘Kinetic pathway’, where we use various planning resources and tools to ensure an effective media solution for our clients.

Q. How do you think billboards in India can be sophisticated?

I am a firm believer of ‘less is more’ paradigm. We can look at having lesser number of billboards with standardised sizes. OOH should get integrated in the fabric of the cityscape rather than creating visual pollution. Also, the look and feel of the billboards should have consistency across cities. Maybe consolidation is the key here.

We should initiate using digital billboards as well as they will enhance the urban architecture.OOH infrastructure (Inventories) should be used by the city/town planners to make our cities beautiful and to augment the imagery and the positioning of the cities.

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

Don’t want to sound clichéd, but the Indian OOH industry’s needs are basic – common currency for measurement, industry-accepted site evaluation metrics, monitoring and pricing mechanisms.

Once we get the basics right, then we need to push on other growth drivers – integration with technology, assimilating SoLoMo (Social-Local-Mobile), more investments in research, creation of more experiences, etc.

We all need to collectively move at a pace that matches with our ever evolving consumers across categories. We have seen the way products are getting customised, relaunched, tweaked, and re-engineered all the time. What is relevant today might not be relevant tomorrow. We don’t know what might become a game changer.

Having seen all these trends and the changing paradigms, the OOH industry has not changed the way and at a pace it should have.

Q. How has the outdoor advertising industry changed globally over the years? What are the key trends seen today globally?

For several years now, OOH measurement has been established in the European and the US markets. The APAC region is gradually moving towards it, either through industry efforts in few countries or through agencies like Kinetic, who are spearheading R&F initiatives across markets.

Globally, OOH is getting integrated with digital. In most of the markets, digital contribution to the total OOH pie is approx 25 per cent (Source: Kinetic DOOH handbook). In these markets, the OOH ecosystem (agencies, media owners and advertisers) has embraced technology and has been experimenting with technology.

Digital and mobile integration is in full swing across categories. Destinations are playing an important role in OOH planning. Airport advertising is growing globally and significant investments in aviation infrastructure will further bolster higher investments. Another key trend in India is that that the percentage of investments in smaller cities and towns is going up, indicative of increasing affluence across the country.

Q. How much of catching up does the Indian outdoor advertising industry have to do?

We do need to catch up on a few key platforms (measurement, site evaluation, campaign monitoring etc) already mentioned above.

Having said that, we should also take pride in the fact that we initiated a few things in India long time back – ADEX, having launched way back in 1990; third party online monitoring (completely outsourced for greater transparency); and a robust R&F (Reach & frequency) model known as PSV (Portland Site Visibility) in 1998.

Q. Do you think going digital is the next big thing in OOH?

Yes. Digital is an ally of OOH. The faster we integrate OOH with it, it will help OOH and be a big growth driver. By 2020, Marc Prensky predicts people across the globe will be plugged into the ‘AORTA,’ -- Always On Real Time Access . A future in which people are constantly able to access information and news from anywhere on the planet. OOH will have no choice but to synergise this wave of omnipresent connectivity and the ever growing need of consumers to be always connected.

Q. How was 2012 for Kinetic India?

In 2012, we launched Moving World, our bespoke study of consumers’ on the go. This was a big research project for us spanning six cities. Complementing the research project, we also extended the width and depth of our planning tools. Inspite of being a slow year (2 per cent growth according to GroupM TYNY estimates for 2012), we were able to grow our businesses in 2012.

Q. Last year, Kinetic India unveiled a consumer research reported titled, ‘Moving World - India’. Do you plan to come up with similar research study in the future?

With consumers ever evolving and spending more time out of home, as per our research study ‘Moving World - India’, we need to understand the OOH space more, especially the movement of the people, the spaces where they are spending time and the mindframe while being on the move. We do plan to carry out similar research studies in the future as the space is transforming globally and we need to research future trends.

Q. What is there on your wish list for 2013?

More integration with digital, mobile and technology. I would like to see digital billboards replacing static billboards and of course, measurement mechanics for OOH in India.

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