OOH is moving quickly from a commodity medium to a medium that advertisers are using strategically to deliver more. The year, 2011 was a challenging year for the OOH industry as telecom operators, which are one of the biggest advertisers on outdoor media, cut down their budget heavily for the medium.
While expectations from the telecom sector are high this year, many believe that 2012 will only be a year of recovering the dues and balancing the losses incurred in 2011. According to the industry, innovations and non-traditional approach towards the medium by the telecom sector is proving to be the game changer.
Telecom sector has always banked on branded stores to drive lead generation and help in customer management but advertising in the retail space is something new that the sector is tapping upon to attract consumer attention at the purchase point.
Has lack of sophistication of billboards led brand categories such as telecom to look at advertising in retail? Answering this, Surya Mahadevan, Chief Operating Officer, Loop Mobile explained, “Billboards have always been considered a poor cousin of mainstream advertising. Incidentally, India is also one of the few countries where the permission to put up a hoarding is given easily. The numbers of billboards have reached epidemic proportions. We feel that a well-designed billboard is a powerful, consistent and effective means of communicating to your potential consumer on the move. Brands still need to capitalise on the true potential of this medium and this will lead to fantastic creative innovation in outdoor advertising.”
The Indian retail sector has been witnessing exponential growth with developments taking place not only in metros but also in tier II and tier III cities. The last few years have seen a revolutionary change in the retail advertising business and telecom companies have been the driving force.
For instance Tata Teleservices, which had triggered a price war in the telecom sector in 2010, had then entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Future Group for marketing a telecom product. The idea was new to India, though international retail chains such as Tesco and Carrefour have long had such offerings. The partnership introduced a new brand T24 on the GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) platform, open only to Future Group customers and is still running activation.
Elaborating on this, Amitesh Rao, Director, Brand and Media, MTS India said, “Retail is very critical for brands visibility, especially in metros where the cost of outdoor assets is high and availability of these mediums is also a matter of concern. Retail gives proximity to our consumers and a location of advertising that can be strategically incorporated in our outdoor media plan. Retail space also proves to drive consumers to a purchase point which is extremely productive in our sector.”
What has made retail a hot stop for telecom advertisers also is the monsoon season. While currently telecom advertisements are largely not seen on billboards, a lot of them are visible in different and engaging retail formats, building hope amongst the outdoor industry.