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James Varghese

COO | 29 Jul 2013

The important factor to connect with the audience is to create media opportunities that are apt for the brand. That brings about the much needed flexibility in creating customised messaging. In fact, I have always believed that creative content should be made keeping in mind the media placement. The second important factor is the message relevancy of communication and identifying the relevant touch points depending on the TG and campaign objectives.

AdzEdge, which till recently was operating as a division within OAP, has embarked on a path of re-defining itself as an independent company re- christened as AdzEdge Communication and roped in old OAP outdoor warhorse James Varghese as Chief Operating Officer.

Varghese has 18 years of experience in sales and heading the profit centers in various companies such as IndusInd Media, Broadcast Worldwide, Hathway Cable & Datacom, Mid-Day, Clear Channel India, Prime Outdoor, and OAP. He has spent over six years in OAP as Senior Vice President for West & South, during this period added many key accounts to OAP’s kitty.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Varghese speaks at length about his new role, about these expectations from the business this year, industry issues and much more...

Q. With your new role in AdzEdge, what are the things in your ‘to do’ list right now?

I have the onerous task of establishing national presence for AdzEdge, build the right team, go the whole hog on new business developments, implement the planning tools and strengthen the existing client relationships. My aim is to develop AdzEdge to be a total OOH solutions agency that is recognised for value. Another task at hand is to enhance the knowledge of my team and create an atmosphere that makes AdzEgde a lively place to work.

Q. What are the most important factors while connecting with the audience through OOH?

The important factor to connect with the audience is to create media opportunities that are apt for the brand. That brings about the much needed flexibility in creating customised messaging. In fact, I have always believed that creative content should be made keeping in mind the media placement. The second important factor is the message relevancy of communication and identifying the relevant touch points depending on the TG and campaign objectives.

Q. How different is OOH today compared to what it was a few years back?

OOH has obviously come a long way. It is getting more organised and structured. The Indian Outdoor Advertising Association (IOAA) has been a welcome development. But a lot more needs to be done. On the flip-side, many agencies have mushroomed and media owners are also wearing agency hats, creating double-trouble. The campaign durations have started to shrink and scientific planning is still missing. Media opportunities are growing day-by-day, allowing clients to advertise on various other outdoor media options apart from the conventional media.

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

For the industry to grow, scientific planning and measurement tools is the need of the hour. If few things such as transparency, good ethics, committed deliverables, on-time payment to media owners, etc. are tackled, I am sure industry would grow and more clients would start believing in OOH. And I am sure IOAA has already taken a step towards this.

Q. How would you compare India’s OOH industry to the global one?

Home grown Indian media majors will continue to play a dominant role simply because they are more adept to the local socio-political environment. But it is likely that they adopt best practices of the global majors. We lack common measurement tool that is accepted by the entire industry. Monitoring agencies, along with government regulatory bodies are also quite stringent in the outdoor industry overseas.

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

Digital OOH is still in a nascent stage and will take a while to catch up. Having 4G in place, I feel the telecom industry could diversify to OOH arena with lot of interactive communication and technology to measure eyeballs. 4G could be a game-changer in the digital OOH space.

Q. What are the major trends you see that will shape 2013?

Though spends have started to shrink, new regulations by TRAI might partly shift focus of clients looking for RoI to OOH. Food security bill would shift focus to the rural markets and create opportunities for OOH space.

Q. Are any infrastructure or regulatory changes expected in 2013 that will impact the industry?

Regulatory changes keep happening in different markets; the local authorities have started realising the potential of OOH and due to their shrinking revenue, they are open to new avenues and have started to behave more outdoor-friendly. Such changes will help advertisers recognise outdoor as an industry.

Q. What are areas that AdzEdge will focus on in the months ahead?

Currently, we have taken on board right people with team spirit and the adrenaline to get into the market and explore every opportunity. In terms of planning, only time will speak of our work. We want to be aggressive in getting people to know us as a new and young agency in the market. Once people get to know us and hear about us, it will in turn create recall value among clients, which will eventually develop into future business propositions.

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