Outdoor Advertising Convention (OAC) 2007 saw representatives from the length and breadth of the country, and even from foreign lands sharing their views on this growing industry. The players from the industry were excited about the bullishness of the medium and were equally quick in pointing out the barriers for its growth.
‘The Power Talk’, chaired by Roda Mehta, Chairperson-Technical Committee, Media Research Users Council (MRUC), had the industry stalwarts including Sam Balsara, CMD, Madison Communications; Sandip Tarkas, Media Head, Reliance ADAG; and Noomi Mehta, Chairman, Selvel Advertising, voicing out their opinions on the Indian OOH space.
Roda Mehta started off the session by addressing the most debated point over the two-day conference: measurement. Announcing the launch of the Indian Outdoor Survey (IOS) from MRUC and Hansa Research, Mehta talked about the benefits that could be derived from this syndicated study on outdoor media measurement in India. Observing that IOS will be beneficial for all the three industry constituents, she observed, “This is the first time that the three industry constituents -- advertiser, advertising agency and media owners -- have come together for creating a research tool.”
Sharing his thoughts on the current outdoor industry, Balsara stressed that through a small personal experiment conducted by him on himself, he found that almost 50 per cent of the outdoor ads made no impact on him due to its lack of appropriate content. Emphasising on the importance of creating content specifically for the medium and growing this medium by five times over the years, Balsara continued, “The real losers from these advertisements are not the advertisers, as they only have temporary negligible losses; but it is the outdoor advertising industry which is at loss as the advertiser will not increase his percentage of advertising in the medium.”
Talking from an advertiser’s perspective, Tarkas, on the other hand, talked about how the outdoor medium will remain to be the last push mass media in future. “For the growth to continue, content has to be addressed, while measurement and legislation issues have to be sorted out,” he added.
Adding to what the other speakers had to say, Noomi Mehta noted on the importance of creating quality and appropriate content for the medium. He said, “For the medium to survive, it is necessary that there should not only be outdoor-specific content, but also digital outdoor-specific content.”
Pratap Bose, CEO, O&M India, started the day by urging the OOH industry players to ‘think differently’, and cited the example of Apple’s evolution from the basic blue-box to the segment leading ‘ipod’. Showing some of the ambient media works from Bangalore and elsewhere, he elaborated on the growing medium in the country. Concluding his session, Bose observed, “Digital is the future, outdoor market in rural India is huge, and, measurability is paramount.”
En. Mohammad Azlan Abdullah, Director of Operations, Big Tree Outdoor, Malaysia, talked about the Malaysian experience of OOH advertising. He divulged that similar to most countries, Malaysian OOH advertising space is also only five per cent. “But, it is growing at an average of 13 per cent YoY,” he added.
Alex Thompson, Chief Executive-Asia Pacific, Kinetic, observed that almost all the creatives and technology used in OOH is similar globally. Noting that the growth of the medium is bullish in the Asia-Pacific region, Thompson stated, “The projected OOH advertising revenues for 2008 in the US is $8.12 million, while in the UK it is $8.03 million. On the other hand, in APAC, it is $10.14 million.”
Lakshmi Goyal, Senior VP and Head, Brand-Research and Marketing Communication, HSBC India, supported her presentations with the aid of coloured glasses that were distributed among the audience for displaying one of their OOH ads. “Returns on investments and the ability to maintain uniformity over scale are some of the challenges facing the OOH space in the country,” added Goyal.
Patrick Turner, Business Development Manager, Large Format Printing, Industrial Solutions, HP Scitex - HP Imaging & Printing Group, Asia Pacific and Japan, talked about the company’s large scale printing equipment’s features and utilities in his presentation. On the other hand, Dr Matthias Rumpelhardt, CEO, Stroer Media International, gave a German perspective on the medium. He talked about how the players in the country in collaboration with the City Council is developing street furniture and making the city look beautiful along with the ads placed in them.