Day 2 of the Outdoor Advertising Convention (OAC) 2008 was held in Mumbai on June 28 began with Jim Liu, Managing Partner, Kinetic, who threw light on the Chinese outdoor advertising industry. He said, “Although the overall picture of China’s outdoor advertising industry is optimistic, with venture capital investments increasing from $52 million in 2005 to $225 million in 2008, ambiguities can be found in regulation of outdoor advertising as various government organisations claim certain power in governing outdoor cities. As a result, the industry is currently on a cliff hanger, wherein any day any site could come down.”
Meenakshi Madhvani, CEO, Spatial Access, stressed on being inquisitive about outdoor advertising abroad and how it worked there. According to her, it took common sense, passion, and an ability to deal rationally with others to sell one’s ideas.
Subhash Kamath, CEO, Bates 141, said, “Today, discipline in advertising is vitally important because of the intensely competitive environment and the need for immediate results. By discipline, I mean being true to a brand’s strategy and staying focused.” He urged the creative directors to treat outdoor as a canvas rather than a space, so that ideas could be translated in the form of stories.
Ashish Bhasin, Chairman (India) & CEO (South East Asia), Aegis Media, presented some hard facts about the industry and stressed that in order for the outdoor industry to come out of the woods, it required a fundamental rethinking of conventional business and marketing strategies. Not only must this re-thinking apply to brand management, but equally to brand communication strategies, he added. Successfully managing brands today required a creative portfolio of relevant media strategies that extended well beyond the ‘safe bets’ of previous generations of advertisers, he added.
A special session called ‘Apunka Ilaka’, saw media owners from Rajasthan, Kolkata and Mumbai speak on how small media owners could hold their forte and protect their turf in a competitive yet consolidative environment.
This was followed by the most-awaited moment of OAC 2008 – ‘Bit Fight’. The session was moderated by Sam Balsara, Chairman & MD, Madison World, while the panelists included Indrajit Sen, CEO, Stroeer Out-of-home Media India; Soumitra Bhattacharyya, CEO, Laqshya Outdoors; and Mangesh Borse, Director, Symbiosis. The panelists discussed the future of the billboard, whether it would stay or would be overshadowed by alternative mediums like street furniture, etc.
Indrajit Sen and Soumitra Bhattacharyya said that alternative mediums would overshadow billboards, margins from which were anyways decreasing due to the clutter in the skyline. Mangesh Borse asserted that billboards were here to stay and that they would always remain the medium that would fill the cash registers of media owners. The ‘Big Fight’ concluded that with the formation of new guidelines and availability of new technology, other mediums would definitely eat into the profit margins of billboards, but the panel also agreed that billboards were not going to disappear any time soon.
George Christidis, President and Co-founder, Wild on Media, Toronto, then took the stage and said, “The year 2004 marked the entry of Wild on Wings, the aerial division of Wild on Media, with state-of-art helicopter banners and digital night signs. Helicopters banners (Sky Murals) provide the perfect vehicle for optimum impact during product launch, a critical phase in a campaign and when expectations are at their highest.”
“We are currently in talks with the air authorities in India, and are aiming to capture a big share of the Indian outdoor advertising market,” Christidis added.
Speaking about the outdoor advertising scene in Bangalore, Gangadhar Swamy, Assistant Commissioner, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), said, “Ever since the implementation of the new guidelines for the outdoor industry, BBMP has witnessed a tremendous growth in revenues, which currently stands at Rs 1,800 crore per year. The Government is open to any innovative schemes that would help in enhancing the city landscape and revenue of the Government.”
"Bangalore has now transformed into Greater Bangalore and has an area of around 20 lakh square meters, which is currently untapped. We are currently working with all the agencies (2,800 in total) and the Bangalore Outdoor Advertising Association to frame a city plan, which will create a win-win situation for all the parties involved. We at BBMP believe that outdoor advertising is no longer a step child,” Swamy added.
The Convention ended with a panel discussion, which was moderated by Sreekant Khandekar, Co-founder Afaqs.com. The panelists included Ismail Dabhoya, Senior Vice President-Finance and Commercial, Big FM; Noomi Mehta, Chairman, Selvel One Group of Companies; Indrajit Sen, CEO, Stroeer Out-of-home India; N Subramanian, Chief Financial Officer, TIML; Alok P Jalan, Group CEO, Laqshya Media; and Gaurav Deepak, Managing Director, Avendus.
The panelists discussed the changing economics of the industry and increasing valuations, PE funding, higher bids and their combined effect on the outdoor industry. According to the panelists, the outdoor industry welcomed PE funding, but was wary of the fact whether the companies who had received the investment could give a 30 per cent return on investment in the period of 2-3 years, especially when the party that benefits is quoting higher bids for the tenders.