All media face enormous challenges – the global recession, the absolute explosion of media, and the migration to online, to name but a few. As a result, the biggest challenge of all is for media to demonstrate value in an increasingly complex market.
In the end, it’s all about the audience – its size, its quality and its uniqueness. In the out-of-home sector, it’s crucial that the media partners/ vendors recognise this. In the recent past, they have been pushed by aggressive landlords/ municipal corporations into bidding too highly for facilities without necessarily quantifying their communication value. They have not given the proper consideration to whether they are in the right place, relative both to the audience or competitive facilities close by; or whether they have any other unique properties, whether they are digital or analogue. Setting revenue targets and working backwards will not work.
Research is the entry ticket. Most Western European markets have recognised OOH industry research and have collaborated across media owners and across markets in achieving this. The USA has, belatedly, now got it, and must use its new-found research capabilities to capitalize on the latent OOH potential that the scale of the media market there presents. But they should not go it alone; they should talk to other markets, with longer established industry OOH research credentials, on how to use it to greatest effect. And that still leaves almost all of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the whole of APAC (Australia excepted) without industry research, which is a huge hole to fill. But having research is only the starting point; it’s what we all do with it that counts. If OOH is to truly prosper as a ‘must have’ channel, particularly for multi-market brands, this regional imbalance in thedevelopment of industry research mustbe addressed. In India, particularly, the industry needs to moveahead at one pace. In some markets thiswill be more difficult than others, and realistically, in this case, it could begin first in major marketing centers. So in India, for example, Mumbai, Delhi and other Tier I cities can take the lead.
On top of this, we have all got to be properly capable of measuring digital effect and value along with this research as I believe this is the next generation OOH. It’s not simply about seven- or 10-day cover, but a mix of coverand impact frequency in reaching a mobile target audience, as well as optimum copy treatments and rotation, and so on. All of this can only be achieved by collaboration between media owners, across markets, encouraged by objective input from buyers. Clients need to know what’s in it for them. All of the above investment and research must answer their questions about what the medium does for their brands and how it helps them to connect with their consumers. The OOH industry must work to deliver these answers to cement its place on media schedules. This is not easy stuff. It can only be achieved holistically through collaboration– and that’s the challenge.
“Clients need to know what’s in it for them and why OOH delivers”
(Haresh Nayak is Managing Director at Posterscope India.)