OAC 2006 DAY 2: Regulations, robust infrastructure to push forward the outdoor ad industry

OAC 2006 DAY 2: Regulations, robust infrastructure to push forward the outdoor ad industry

Author | Shikha Saroj | Monday, Jun 12,2006 7:19 AM

OAC 2006 DAY 2: Regulations, robust infrastructure to push forward the outdoor ad industry

Day 2 at the Outdoor Advertising Convention (OAC) in Mumbai looked at the fundamental issues and future technologies that will develop the out-of-home (OOH) industry.

Eric Newnham, Global CEO, Kinetic discussed the future of outdoor advertising and the role that technology plays in this industry. According to Newnham, the next wave of outdoor advertising is interactivity. In this age, consumers are prosumers and are not passive consumers. This is the reason that blogs and TiVo are so popular as they give the consumers a choice to see what they want when they want to or even openly write what they feel strongly about. This trend has now spread in marketing and advertising also.

The future is digital, allowing advertisers to control the time that their ad will appear while advertising outdoors through billboards or even scroll screens in malls, airports, etc. Advertisers can go far beyond static billboards that are present 24x7 and might not be targeting the right audience. Digital technologies allow advertisers to decide if they want their ad to feature at daytime, nighttime, or even control the number of times that their ad will appear outdoors. All this can be controlled at the click of a mouse that will directly control the outdoor medium such as screens or digital boards.

With everyone going mobile, BlueCasting (BC) is the new way in which marketers can deliver content to mobile phones. BC comprises a small BC server running a unique set of software services. Located at poster sites, retail locations, entertainment venues, public spaces or embedded in interactive kiosks, the BC system will identify each consumer's BlueTooth-enabled handset and deliver a tailored message to them. However, infrastructure plays a key role while applying these technolgies. As Newnham said, “BC is working brilliantly in Times Square because of the infrastructure that supports this technology.”

Lloyd Mathias, Marketing Director, India, Motorola Mobile Devices, spoke about Motorola’s hottest selling mobile phone, RAZR, and how outdoor played a strategic role in making it a worldwide success. Motorola’s image until a few years back was that of a manufacturere who made bulky, black walky-talkies. While Motorola was recognised as a company that made technology rich phones, they failed when it came to the phone’s design factor that made a competitor like Nokia look far more attractive.

Motorola decided to pay attention to both form and function while manufaturing phones and market heavily to make consumers aware that Motorola now has attractve looking phones that have the latest technology. This move made Motorola move from a global marketshare of 13.5 per cent in 2004 to 21 per cent in Q1 2006. Mathias said, “Motorola jumped sales last year after introducing new phones loaded with technology. This was mainly because mobile phones are a lifestyle product and people think of buying a mobile phone as consciously as they think of buying a watch or any other fashion accessory.”

Motorola first decided to slim down their phones and also introduce colours and materials that make a phone sturdy yet attractive. Motorola marketed their phones through aggressive campaigns, donning an iconic logo and models who represented Motorola’s cool attitude. Said Mathias, “We used outdoor advertising as we could target consumers based on the specific model that we were trying to sell. So, it was more about what the phone could do for our customer who was working or relaxing or shopping. Some of the means that Motorola used while using OOH advertising were retail signage, trade and consumer promotions, transit media, static media, ambient media, and active participation in events and sponsorship.”

Motorola also partnered with Hutch while marketing the limited RAZR pink phones as Hutch was also changing its identity from orange to pink. All these marketing initiatives have made the RAZR the world’s largest selling phone.

Mark Thewlis, Regional President-Asia Pacific, Clear Channel, focused on OOH developments in Asia Pacific. Clear Channel is the world’s largest OOH media company with an annual revenue of $2.7 billion and more than 800,000 advertising displays in 30 countries.

Clear Channel has been in India for eight years now and is present in China as Clear Media, Singapore, Thailand as Master and More, Hong Kong as Buspak and Cody, Australia and New Zealand as Adshel. According to Thewlis, China was the largest outdoor advertising market in the world, particularly because TV advertising was poor in China. Thewlis said, “Everybody loves China and Chinese cities have developed astoundingly, presenting OOH companies with many interesting opportunities for business.”

Aaccording to Thewlis, some of the Asian trends were that OOH was a manistream medium and cities wanted less clutter and smaller formats in outdoor advertising. Thewlis agreed with Newnham that digital was the next big thing in outdoor advertising.

He said, “There is plenty of OOH opportunity for India. However, OOH in India is growing slower than other mediums as the industry in India is fragmented, cluttered and expensive. OOH in India can develop and strengthen by forming a national association, regulating the industry and introducing a certain level of accountability in the medium.”

Thewlis added, “Reach and frequency are not important in OOH. Today, OOH is all about impact, engagement and interactivity.”

Citing Delhi’s example and the importance of self-regulation in OOH was Amiya Chandra, Head of Department of Outdoor Advertising, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). Chandra said, “It pays to regulate the industry and media companies and government bodies need to realise the importance of regulation. Self-regulation will result in high design standards and avoidance of cluttered advertisements.” MCD has also been actively involved in organising the outdoor industry in Delhi by introducing a policy in 2003 for the OOH industry in Delhi.

Indrajit Sen, COO and Business Head, Jagran Engage, said that he would like to consider the problems that the OOH industry in India faced as opportunities that would push the industry forward if the industry players were willing to discipline and organise the industry.

According to Sen, what ailed the industry was the absence of measurement, data and ongoing audits. He added, “There are opportunities at every step. However, the OOH industry will have to consolidate and gain from size and unite and develop the OOH industry. People with enough stakes in this business have to get together.”

All prominent industry players agreed that everyone in the industry should partner for growth and form an association that would make the rules and laws for this industry. This would ensure that the OOH industry had a robust infrastructure and was disciplined and organised to meet worldclass standards.

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