The exchange4media & network2media OOH Advertising Awards 2012 is reaching its final stages with the distinguished jury panel meeting in Delhi on Monday, March 12, to judge the entries received. The awards would be given away at a glittering ceremony to be held in New Delhi on March 16.
Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO, South East Asia, Aegis Media, is the Jury Chairman this year. In conversation with exchange4media, Bhasin shares his expectations from the awards, his Budget wish-list, outlook for the OOH industry in 2012, and more…
As Jury Chairperson, what are your expectations from the OOH Advertising Awards?
First and foremost, I am looking forward to many entries from different OOH players. It is time to take OOH advertising centrestage. I am looking forward to seeing works that present the strength of out-of-home as a medium. For long, OOH has played second fiddle to other media and has been a clichéd reminder medium. I am expecting to see work that will change all such perceptions.
What would be your main criteria for judging the entries?
Innovation, work that showcases OOH beyond the mundane. I would also look for new ideas, as well as the impact of the OOH campaign and the scale. Lastly, the way OOH has helped brands gain prominence will be the main criterion.
How do you think awards such as the OOH Advertising Awards are helping the OOH industry?
OOH as a medium does not get its due credit. Industry awards such as these showcase the good work being done and also the impact that outdoor medium can create for brands. These awards bring more focus to the industry and more recognition to the medium and the professionals.
Representing the OOH industry, what is your Budget wish-list for the Finance Minister?
OOH is a grey area in many aspects. There needs to be clarity as to whether OOH falls in the goods or services category since it is a bit of both. Second area is that of taxation. There are multi-point taxations – be it VAT, service tax and so on. My wish-list for the Finance Minister is to simplify taxation norms and also no further increase in service tax.
As per the Pitch Madison Ad Outlook 2012, the share of outdoor in the total ad pie fell to 5.1 per cent and the medium's revenue stood at Rs 1,297 crore in 2011? What were the key reasons for this decline?
I disagree with this number. As per a Posterscope study carried out in 66 cities covering 90 per cent of the organised sector spend, OOH medium has grown 9-10 per cent. OOH’s share of the total ad pie has been constant. In 2011, the spends stood at around Rs 1,400 crore.
What can the industry do to make outdoor a more prominent part of brands' media plans?
According to me, there are three things wrong with the OOH industry:
• First is unprofessionalism, an unorganised sector and corruption. There are no set working norms or guidelines.
• Secondly, there is lack of accountability. It often ends up being an act of faith. There are no clear metrics as to whether the campaign has worked or not. The industry is hampered by lack of proper research and data.
• Third problem is the quality of the people in the OOH professional is not up to the mark. Of course, there are exceptions, but more skilled professionals are required in this industry.
There is urgent need to form an industry association or body along the lines of AAAI for the advertising industry and Nasscom for the IT industry, comprising both agencies and media owners. So far we are not looking in one direction, but at each other.
At Posterscope, we believe in recruiting at the entry level and providing intense training. We send our people abroad for training to countries such as the UK, Spain, Malaysia, and so on. Hence, they are exposed to the international best practices. They bring back tools to India and customise them as per the local requirements.
What, according to you, is the outlook for the OOH industry in 2012? What are the key trends that you see ahead?
We see the OOH industry growing at around 9 per cent in 2012. However, there could be some slowdown till the end of the monsoon period, but business will pick up with the festival season.
The real estate and finance sectors will cut down on their OOH spends.
Digital OOH will have more share of the outdoor advertising business. I also see more professionalism coming into this industry. Moreover, there will be consolidation of more outdoor agencies. We will see global best practices coming into India.
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