Technology or innovation, what could drive the OOH industry into the next growth phase? Industry experts are divided on this.
Ashish Bhasin, Chairman India & CEO, South East Asia, Aegis Media, and Director, Posterscope, APAC, commented that the only thing that had very clearly changed in the OOH space over the last few years was the technology. From hand painted hoardings, today was an age of digital and mobile. “Technology will continue to play a very dramatic role in the future of the out of home industry and innovation would always be important,” he said. “Why can’t a Times Square happen in India?” he asked.
Madhuri Sapru, WIC, Encyclomedia, however, felt that ‘innovation’ was a rather misused word. The word that mattered, according to her, was ‘impact’. “We are really looking for work that creates an impact. It is important to have good creatives and keep the content and the message simple. It is this impact that will give the ROI to advertisers. Technology is the enabler and that is what makes the consumer a part of the communication and thus, a part of the industry,” she pointed out.
According to Rajan Mehta, CEO, LiveMedia, there was an information overload that haunted this industry. What people were looking for was ‘snackable’ content, since their attention spans had come down. They want snippets of information on the go. Conventional media caters to consumers sitting at home, but now, more and more people are spending more time out of home and in transit. This factor will work wonders for the OOH medium. Stressing on the need for diverse mediums, Mehta said, “There was a time when one message through any one particular medium would get to people. But now, the diversification is so much that different people need different messages through different mediums. Make sure you deliver what the consumers want and how they want it. Innovation has to help us connect to consumers.”
For Pramod Bhandula, MD, JCDecaux India, innovation was something that renewed the existing mediums. He cited the example of how bus shelters had been innovated upon to become prime properties in the OOH domain. To move away from the conventional, deliver the message and make the advertisers and the consumers happy, according to Bhandula, that was what innovation was all about.
Meanwhile, Indrajit Sen, CEO, Laqshya Outdoor, remarked, “Since the OOH medium is still rather primitive, it faces restrictions on the regulatory front, be it regarding sizes or locations.” A lot of innovation was possible in this sector and there was capacity and scope for tremendous consumer connect, he said, adding, “We are using technology, but we are still playing it safe.”
In the OOH medium, mobiles were what added location and context, noted Suresh Narasimha, CEO, TeliBrahma. What needed focus and innovation, according to him, was the scale and the planning when it came to campaigns, fields such as these two, most definitely needed more attention. He saw the OOH medium, especially the mobile sector, as one where major capital investment was possible.
OOH was still very low down in the value chain, Encyclomedia’s Sapru said. The OOH industries needed to step back, figure out the campaign plan with the clients, and then innovate to deliver. The consumer was always the centre of the OOH gameplan because they needed to be engaged integrally. Thus, any campaign that grabbed the attention and got the consumer involved on a one-on-one basis was a campaign that worked. Clearly, innovation that is the possible face of the future OOH demands more consumer engagement and greater impact.
Ashish Bhasin, Madhuri Sapru, Rajan Mehta, Pramod Bhandula, Indrajit Sen, and Suresh Narasimha were speaking the at the first ever e4m & n2m OOH 2011 Conference for Outdoor Advertising & Digital Signage in Delhi on February 25.