Pushkar Jain, Head (Brand Marketing) at Tata Teleservices, feels the outdoor advertising opportunity is still mostly untapped. Jain is a jury member of the upcoming OOH Conference and Awards 2015 organized by exchange4media, which will be held on March 27, 2015 in Gurgaon.
Jain shares his thoughts on outdoor advertising and what it takes to create a great outdoor campaign. Excerpts.
When it comes to content in outdoor campaigns, what are the prime things you look at?
Outdoor sits in the ambient environment and hence always risks becoming a “wallpaper” that a consumer doesn’t notice. If the content is creative, interesting and intriguing enough, it will automatically draw attention. For example, the Grand Prix winner at Cannes 2013 for OOH was IBM’s Smarter Ideas for Smarter Cities campaign, for which the company turned billboards into street furniture—conveying the message that IBM built smarter urban areas. Of course, the messaging needs to be pithy and clear, as well as consistent with your overall brand tone, but all this without a disproportionate focus on noticeability is not enough.
What are the essentials that a brand should have for an on-ground activity?
For an on-ground activity, it is necessary that brands engage the audience, making them an active part of the campaign. It cannot be a one way communication process, the audience needs to be a part of the activity while at the same time engaging with the brand’s messaging.
We have ourselves executed several innovative activations on Tata Docomo, to continue inspiring people to ‘Open Up’ and express themselves. For example, in one of our radio innovations we invited people to call in with the names of their friends who they thought were great singing talent, but chose not to express themselves because of any shyness. The RJ then dialled these friends and had them sing on air.
The OOH industry is largely labelled as unstructured. Where does outdoor feature in your media plans?
A big problem with the OOH industry is the lack of structured effectiveness evaluation tools, but at the same time it has a huge benefit of being able to tap a wide localised audience. Tata Docomo invests a significant share of its spends on outdoor campaigns. We believe not just us but the overall telecom industry will continue to look at OOH as a key medium, as it not only helps deliver the desired messaging but also in a sense declares localised network presence.
Beyond innovation, do you think smart planning should be the ground rule while designing an outdoor campaign?
For the success of any campaign irrespective of it being outdoor or indoor, smart planning is necessary. Innovative ideas are the just the starting point, poor execution can kill the best designed programs.
What are the changes needed in the outdoor industry to retain and attract more brands towards it?
While the outdoor industry is still gaining prominence owing to its possibilities in terms of localised reach, it still remains a widely untapped opportunity. Outdoor industry owes a lot of its drawbacks to the exorbitant costs it brings along, as well as the inability of marketers to evaluate the campaign deliveries in a structured manner.
Do you think there is a need for self regulation in the OOH sector?
The sector is gaining prominence and both localised and national brands have started to regard this as a high importance medium. If the sector is to grow rapidly and to realize its potential, self-regulation is necessary.
Do you feel outdoor agencies need to be more flexible in terms of their offerings?
Most outdoor agencies tend to focus only on the quantum and geographical selection of sites rather than context their thinking in the overall brand plans. The need is to root all thinking into the role that this medium can play in the larger campaign scheme and thereafter develop a plan that integrates well overall.
The outdoor industry doesn’t have a common currency. As a marketer, how much does this worry you?
It is a worry. The marketing team has to work harder and depend on correction mechanisms aka audits rather than relying on the planning-implementation-post-evaluation cycle as in TV or internet.
From a technology perspective, what do you think is needed to better attract audiences?
Today technology has the ability to serve as an exponential multiplier to a brands message. The challenge to create something that stimulates the audience enough to begin the sharing.
Digital OOH has still not taken off in India, as a client do you think this form of outdoor advertising will help your brand and what is the progress you would like to see in this regards?
Digital OOH is a medium which needs to work sans audio that too in places with a lot of ambient activities that serve as distractions e.g. malls, restaurants. For this medium to make any sort of impact, the sellers of this medium will have to first develop the right content science that creates genuine impact with the given challenges and thereafter invest on helping marketers to create brand specific content which works well on this medium.