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Will metros be the new airports for OOH?

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Will metros be the new airports for OOH?

The latest union budget discussed a number of initiatives and one of the most interesting from an OOH industry perspective was the Finance Minister’s recognition of metros as an emerging mode of urban transportation. 


In fact, just a month back the Ministry of Indian Railways announced a new tender would be floated for marketing on railway properties, which, people we spoke to, said would include a huge opportunity for the outdoor sector.

So, given that the Indian government thinks of metros as also a key member of the overall Indian infrastructure, what does it mean for the Indian OOH advertising landscape?

 “Metro is emerging as the second most important format in the transit media category. Unlike Railways, it caters to local commuters at large.  The major advantage of Metro media is the dwelling time, inside the metro train as well as stations. There's decent demand for this media from clients in certain categories like Retail, M & E etc.,” said Atul Shrivastava, CEO at Laqshya Media, though he mentioned that the most demanded media remains the civil structures on Metro lines, which are located on the roads.

Alok Gupta, Director of Graphisads, also agrees that outdoor opportunities when it comes to metro infrastructure, is still in its infancy. “Railways has been an outdoor media veteran but it is only in recent times that this media is being exploited for commercial purposes by corporations. In a market like Delhi, metro is around 10-12% of outdoor revenues. It is cost effective. However the problem is that Delhi metro only carries around 10-12% of population hence only exclusive budgets on metro is not feasible for clients.”

Despite this, he agrees that there is a huge opportunity in terms of station names with brand extensions. We have seen examples of this working pretty well in case of the Mumbai metro and in Delhi. Last year, when JCDecaux got the rights for the Chennai metro, they boasted of a number of big advertisers and one of the reasons was that the metro allowed advertisers to be visible in areas not allowed otherwise (due to legal reasons in the city).

“{There is} not great demand, but yes, slowly and steadily it is been looked upon as an option to advertise. Metro has its own target audience which is suitable for some clients. You do not expect clients targeting Sec A,B category to go on Metro,” said Gupta.

Speaking about how important Metros can be from an infrastructure point of view for outdoor advertising, Hiyav Bajaj, MD of TDI said, “As we understand, any of the marketing campaign is found to be effective when it targets the relevant audience. Seeing the widespread network, it can be clearly said that the spaces in the metro stations mark as an important inventory for an OOH marketing plan. The expanded network covers the city in all geographies- east to west and north to south with a varied ridership combining riders from different socio-economic sectors, professions, age groups, etc. This huge variety of commuters and the large spread reach justifies well the high importance of having metro projects included, as a source of inventory, in any well planned OOH marketing plan.”

However, despite the huge potential that this particular form of infrastructure holds, most of the agency heads we spoke with also agreed that just depending upon the metro without an overall plan would not make any sense. Having said this, it does seem that with the Union government giving a lot of attention to infrastructure development in the form of railway and metro infrastructure, it will open up the playing field for outdoor advertisement.

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