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Anuradha Aggarwal

Senior Vice President, Brand and Consumer Insights | 05 Aug 2013

With available technology, media integration and easy access to specific audience segments, there is simply no excuse for a brand to neglect OOH innovations. However, with the rise of social media and engagement becoming imperative, it is essential for companies to plan their campaigns smartly in order ensure the brand stands out of clutter and makes a mark.

Anuradha Aggarwal is currently Senior Vice President - Brand Communication and Consumer Insights, at Vodafone India. Her career in Vodafone started in the year 2010. Aggarwal brings with her almost a decade of experience in various marketing roles. Prior to joining Vodafone, she was Business and Brand Innovation Manager at Unilever, where her responsibilities included category management, sales management and brand innovation.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Aggarwal speaks at length about Vodafone’s outdoor advertising strategies, her expectations from the OOH domain and much more...

Q. The OOH industry is largely labelled as unstructured. Where does outdoor feature in your media plans?

Vodafone as a brand has always been active in OOH, and indeed has been the one to set benchmarks in terms of creating landmark OOH media properties, visibility and stature through the medium. We continuously track the impact created by various mediums and OOH is the second biggest source for brand and product messaging at Vodafone.

Q. Beyond innovation, do you think smart planning should be the ground rule while designing an outdoor campaign?

With available technology, media integration and easy access to specific audience segments, there is simply no excuse for a brand to neglect OOH innovations. However, with the rise of social media and engagement becoming imperative, it is essential for companies to plan their campaigns smartly in order to ensure that their brands stand out of the clutter.

One of the examples of smart planning was the OOH initiative during Ganesh Festival in Pune. We identified nine major Visarjan ghats in Pune where 18 life guards were posted with special boats and safety equipments to assist the devotees. Free boat rides were provided to Vodafone customers during the Visarjan ritual. We also provided unique LED Dhols to Pune’s famed ‘Shivagarjana Dhol Pathak’ on the Visarjan day. The activation was planned and executed on the right occasion to endear the brand and make it more relatable.

Q. What are the changes needed in the outdoor industry to retain and attract more brands towards it?

Measurability and campaign deliveries are essential to justify client budgets. Monitoring and damage control of skins is another concern area, though most agencies take this aspect of operations pretty seriously.

Evaluating competition activity is increasingly becoming sharper, which is a good thing, but a category wide data slice is harder to achieve. Process, technology, transparency and innovation are the basic areas of improvement, which when achieved will infuse more confidence in the media and create a bigger playground for everyone involved.

Q. The outdoor industry doesn’t have a common currency as a marketer, how much does this worry you?

In the absence of an industry standard or benchmark, the mode of evaluation has evolved over the years. It could be as simple as calculating the cost per square foot of media, and benchmarking that over past spends in the category. You could layer on consumer behaviour data to give it some semblance of relevance when planning OOH presence especially in retail, malls, airports and other such high impact places.

Considering that telecom as a category and Vodafone as a brand have been visible in OOH for several years now, there is more awareness and knowledge about the media which helps us filter and benchmark. It's actually a balancing act between available data and experience over the years, and the agencies that work with us contribute with credible models to introduce a scientific approach to the apparent ad-hoc nature of the medium. It's a work in progress but it's there.

Q. What are the key elements that you would want to see incorporated in an outdoor campaign?

For salience in OOH, we consider the brand's requirements in specific markets and plan campaigns accordingly. Vodafone does not need customer awareness or brand recall in most markets, which means that extensive visibility for the brand logo is not the criteria. We try and ensure that OOH visibility is stretched to include engagement and aggregate the presence generated by store signage, retail assets etc as well.

For tactical campaigns, the first thing to consider is your target audience, and what you aim to deliver via the product / service. We then choose media based on available data about media consumption patterns for that TG. For instance Vodafone’s Mobile Internet Campaign is part of Vodafone’s strategy to drive adoption and usage of mobile internet amongst the consumers. In Maharashtra, a Vodafone ‘3G Experience Bus’ was set-off to cover around 22 Tier II and III cities like Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nashik, Dhule and Parbhani among others. It serves as an ideal platform to create awareness about mobile internet and how it can touch lives with its innumerable benefits.

Q. It can be observed that Vodafone has been very active in initiating on-ground activities for consumer connects over the last one year. What are the reasons for including such activities in your media plan?

Media effectiveness in OOH is a multi-faceted concept. From a cost efficiency point of view, obviously OOH gives more bang for your buck in smaller markets, due to the lower cost of media compared to metros. However, from a visibility point of view, it is dependent on a lot of factors. For example, metros and large markets typically provide more OTS for campaigns, due to longer time period spent on the road, compared to smaller markets. There is a possibility of audience-specific targeting, if there exists an understanding of where the segment lives, works and parties, which may not be clearly demarcated in a smaller market and may demand a more widespread planning.

This is evident from Vodafone’s recent initiatives in Maharashtra and Goa Circle. Though the sole objective was to promote mobile internet services, Vodafone executed completely different OOH activation for the two different target audiences. Considering the enormous interest the Pandharpur yatra evokes amongst followers across Maharashtra & Goa circle, Vodafone deployed two ‘Vodafone Mobile Trucks’ equipped with mobile phone charging points, recharge vouchers and free calling facilities to help the Warkaris stay in touch with their loved ones throughout the duration of the yatra.

Similarly, Vodafone has also launched ‘Gammat Jammat’, a unique initiative aimed at building awareness about mobile internet among school children in the rural districts of Maharashtra. A Vodafone ‘Gammat Jammat’ team will tour 118 identified villages in interior Maharashtra over a period of three months to engage with students from 118 schools and junior colleges and make them aware about the relevance and benefits of mobile internet.

Q. What are the essentials that a brand should have for an on-ground activity?

Besides having a clear strategy and good understanding of the TG, some intrinsic virtues that a brand must have for an effective on-ground activity include:

• Flexibility to communicate in the local manner (not just language)
• Relevance and Core Offering (product/services)
• Personification of the brand as a friend or companion

Q. What percentage of your marketing spends is allocated to OOH?

We allocate spends depending on various factors such as desired reach, importance and relevance, etc.

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