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OOH Interviews

Amarjit Singh Batra

CEO | 16 Jan 2014

There should be transparency and rationalisation in pricing. The buying process needs to be made simpler. Creative implementation is currently missing in the OOH space; maybe someone could start a marketplace for hoardings, that would be a great idea. The lack of ROI measurement is obviously a big challenge, which is why we are not consistent users of the medium.

Amarjit Singh Batra is the CEO of OLX India, a global internet company headquartered in Buenos Aires, having free online classifieds in 40 languages across 105 countries. Batra has diverse management experience spanning almost two decades, of which the last 12 years have been in the Indian internet space. He joined OLX in 2009 and has played a key role in the establishment of OLX India and the horizontal free online classifieds industry in the country. Under Amarjit’s leadership, OLX has in a short span of time catapulted to become the number one online classifieds player in India.

Like many e-commerce players, OLX India also uses OOH to spread brand awareness. In conversation with exchange4media’s Abhinn Shreshtha, Batra speaks about the need for transparency in pricing and the challenges due to the fragmented nature of the OOH industry.

Q. What is the OOH strategy for OLX India?

OOH is more of a support medium for us. We see it as a medium for localised targeting, since we have a strong regional presence in cities. For example, when a user comes to OLX in a particular city, he will get deals pertinent to that region. To run OOH in isolation in a city is still a question mark for us. We have tested it a bit but it is still in the evaluation phase.

Q. How important is innovation in OOH advertising? Could you give some examples that you have incorporated?

Innovation is important for everything as it helps to clear the clutter and makes you stand out. A bit of innovation is what we strive for. We have to use it strategically since it also creates word-of-mouth publicity. There are lot more possibilities than what is being done currently.

Speaking for ourselves, we have used lighting to ensure our logo is always lit up. We have also used 3D hoardings. Recently, we tried going beyond hoardings by creating caricatures of the protagonists from our TVCs and the products pictured in the hoarding were also caricatures.

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

When it comes to TV campaigns, we usually think on a national-scale, but OOH is focussed on the city-level. We have done offline campaigns through radio and OOH in 15 cities. Approximately 10-20 per cent of our marketing spend is on offline campaigns. Depending on the campaign, the spend fluctuates, but it is usually an average of 10 per cent. As a principle, we roll out OOH campaigns in sync with our TV campaigns.

Q. The OOH industry is largely labelled as unstructured. What challenges does this throw up for you?

This is an important issue. The first challenge is identifying the right locations. We go through a rigorous exercise for identifying the appropriate locations. Our campaigns normally run for 3-6 weeks, so we need to have all the hoardings with us in that period and to synchronise the inventory with our campaign time table becomes a challenge for us. You see, once you are running a campaign, you need to check whether all the hoardings are running your ad simultaneously, but considering the fragmented nature of the OOH industry, many times we don’t get all the hoardings at the same time.

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

There should be transparency and rationalisation in pricing. The buying process needs to be made simpler. Creative implementation is currently missing in the OOH space; maybe someone could start a marketplace for hoardings, that would be a great idea.

The lack of ROI measurement is obviously a big challenge, which is why we are not consistent users of the medium. We are very clear that we will not invest in a medium which has no ROI. We have worked out a way to measure ROI, but it is not very scientific yet and we are still trying to figure out all the details.

Q. Could you tell us what the marketing focus will be this year when it comes to OOH?

In 2014, our focus will continue to be towards specific cities; building our brand and converting potential customers there. We will also look at new marketing opportunities within existing media.

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