Research or rather the lack of it is certainly an issue for the outdoor medium. Industry players observe that the Rs 800-crore outdoor industry needs to be more organised in its operations and also requires research for further growth.
Though there are proprietary tools developed in-house by many players – for example, Portland India’s PSV (Portland Site Visibility) and Selvel Vantage’s research on campaigns -- the absence of uniform research is deeply felt. There is evident disorder as advertisers and specialists make decisions based on gut-feel, judgement and experience.
The conscious efforts of MRUC and IOAAA to elevate the standing of outdoor in terms of research are lauded by everyone. However, experts didn’t hesitate in calling a spade a spade.
Anuj Kanakia, Business Manager, Outdoor Media Division, Starcom, said, “As of now, research for the outdoor industry practically doesn’t exist. MRUC is working towards something. Also, majority of the research done is on hoardings as 70 per cent of outdoor spend is towards hoardings.”
Observed Arminio Ribeiro, President, Portland Media, “In recent years there has been mention of some level of research measurement for outdoor as stated by OOH specialist units.”
Noomi Mehta, Managing Director, Selvel Advertising, speaks of an effort made at the organised level with regard to research in outdoor. “It was done more than 10 years ago by MRUC. It was called ‘OSCAR’. It was mainly done for Mumbai. I had participated with Roda Mehta in the same, though I must admit that it didn’t quite make an impact.”
As a much-needed tool to facilitate quick and sound decisions, Soumitra Bhattacharyya, COO, MOMS (Madison Outdoor Media Services) talks about ROI or the Return on Investment factor. Emphasised Bhattacharyya, “What would really make OOH a more reliable medium is some research that informs the client about his ROI in outdoor. Eventually, such data would also eradicate the gut-feel element in terms of selecting sites.”
Ribeiro agrees with Bhattacharya, but added that the other problems are “absence of common currency for outdoor plan evaluation, poor outdoor credibility, impediments in way of improvement and absence of delivery benchmarks.” He also pointed out that the geographical distribution of an outdoor campaign was an important area that needed to be addressed. “This would pave the way for more sound and rational decisions,” he said.
Starcom’s Kanakia is of the opinion that it would be good to have research done on parameters like visibility factors, eye-level, height of the site, angle of viewing etc. This will lend an element of credibility to outdoor as a medium.
Mehta added that some key issues ‘likelihood to see’ and ‘campaign analysis’ needed to be addressed, “There is a need to have detailed classification of the viewers passing by a hoarding. Such qualitative research coupled with regular updates will definitely help a lot.”
Going by what all these industry experts have voiced, the outdoor segment is definitely in need of research to achieve higher credibility that will pave way for the medium’s growth.