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Guest Article: Coming to a favourite spot near you

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Guest Article: Coming to a favourite spot near you

Catching eyeballs has always been the favourite game for any advertiser. From catchy ads, slogans, jingles and some thought provoking copy – advertisers have turned the world upside down to woo the consumer. From time immemorial, newspapers, magazines, radio and television has been the traditional base. Of late, the new age Internet is also being used to great effect.

But when it comes to some sensational eye-popping advertisements – nothing can beat the outdoor variety. Billboards at vantage points, transit shelters (read bus stops), digital signage (growing by the day), posters on buses and trains simply help to get the message across. I am sure the ‘Amul’ advertisement is an evergreen hit with every age group. The larger-than-life hoardings of the mascot/s in various tones made you sit up and take notice. Moreover, those sharp witty one-liners married to the situation has enticed generations altogether… if ever there was one advertisement which captured the essence of India, then it definitely has to be Amul. No doubt, this particular Amul artwork has defined the way the world communicates with one another on a daily basis. Such is the power of outdoor advertising.

So, this OOH concept is nothing new, but which has evolved over a period of time. It’s but natural that advertisers are always looking for new ways to interact with consumers. And OOH media allows them to express their emotions in many possible ways. A casual walk in some of the city’s fabulous malls (gigantic LCD and plasma screens) is a clear indicator as to where things are headed for. OOH being multifaceted, allows advertisers to get up close and personal with their target groups while engaging them at different levels. The ‘aha’ feeling helps connect them on a personal basis… the battle for retention of consumers, my friend, is almost won. (To make them feel special and stay loyal to your brand is another story.)

The outlook

The last two years, there has been a slowdown in ad spends largely due to the recession; however, in 2009, the top five categories advertising in OOH continued to be telecom service providers, media & entertainment, BFSI (mainly banking and mutual funds), retail and real estate. The surprise entrant amongst top categories was FMCG – food & beverages sector. Overall revenues were down by about 30 per cent to about 2007 levels – say around Rs 1,400 crore, and is expected to move back to at least Rs 1,800 crore by end of 2010 – with sustained high occupancy levels and rising selling rates… which in itself is a good sign.

One good thing that has happened is that slowly there is a consensus building up with major players in the OOH space. The IOAA finally kicked off its national credit policy and won its first set of endorsements from the MHOA and the DOAA. MRUC finally kicked off the Indian Outdoor Study (IOS) for Mumbai in 2009, but till the end, a clean and clear readily useable version is still awaited.

Probably the most important feature that will contribute the most to the sustained success of this industry is the IOS. In 2010, MRUC needs to publish IOS final for Mumbai, Pune and at least three other cities and initiate field work in three more.

Likewise, new concessionaires for Mumbai and Delhi airports are expected to radically change standards of airport advertising in India and raise the bar to global standards. Besides, the AAI airports at Kolkata and Chennai are also expected to announce new tenders. Together, the airport advertising scene is expected to radically change starting 2010.

Overall, the Indian OOH industry is poised to grow well. On a positive note, 2010 is very likely to see a perceptible shift to displays in smaller and upcountry markets as opposed to a total focus on the top 20 markets only. These markets were being used earlier too – but the difference this time will be both in volumes and the quality of displays and overall service expectations from clients. All we need is some good regulations in place, which would help both the advertisers and media owners and the industry overall.

(Indrajit Sen is President - Projects at Laqshya Media.)


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