OOH needs to integrate with the rest of the media to achieve growth: Vikram Sakhuja

Delivering the valedictory speech at the e4m Neons OOH Conference, the Group CEO of Madison Media spoke about the various aspects where OOH was lagging and how it could move ahead

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Mar 13, 2020 8:32 AM
Vikram Sakhuja

The e4m Neons OOH Conference held in Mumbai on Thursday witnessed the valedictory speech being delivered by Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO, Madison Media.

Sharing valuable insights on ‘OOH Industry in India: The Future’, he started the session with a glimpse into the last 10 years of the OOH industry. Sakhuja pointed out that from 7.4 per cent a decade ago, the adex share of the sector had now dropped to 5 per cent. “On the other hand, the digital medium has been growing like a total juggernaut. It’s going to equal Print next year and maybe cross TV three years from now,” Sakhuja observed.

He then posed a question: “How do we want to see ourselves five years from now – steadily going down or reversing the trend?” Sakhuja said he believes the industry has the power to reverse it.

Looking at some of the answers for achieving growth, Sakhuja said it was important to understand the kind of conversations happening in the media with clients. “Things have completely changed in the last seven to eight years. Clients are really talking about broad outcomes – consumer journey. It’s not just about engagement, it’s also about awareness and the entire experience.”

Advertisers are now talking the consumer journey language, the real-time attribution language, Sakhuja said. “We have moved from impressions and demographics to audience profiles.” He then said the question was whether OOH was talking this language but the answer was ‘no’. But he added that it was also possible to achieve.

“If Out Of Home has to grow, it really needs to integrate with the rest of the media,” Sakhuja observed. “Today, OOH is not truly bonded at the hip with all the other media agencies or the brand marketing function.”

Sakhuja then focused on the sector’s three opportunities and one imperative. “There is a need to re-examine the role of OOH amongst the different categories that make up marketing,” he said. He also touched upon the need for better inventory management.

Another key observation by Sakhuja was, “Measurement needs to be the growth engine. We have chosen to ignore this measurement piece and it is clearly at our peril.”

The imperative, Sakhuja said, was the "need to change the way we function as an agency and we need to make sure we have hybrid planners."

“We need to review what’s the role of OOH in a plan.” He said OOH was being used as Reach Extensions. Sakhuja also said some brands were using OOH to break the clutter. “Localisation and footfalls is increasingly a game for outdoor,” he added.

There was a need to move from being an “OOH specialist to a full cross-media specialist”, he said, also highlighting that OOH agencies were not making a competitive pitch and that was necessary.

“We need to be part of all campaigns,” he said. Sakhuja also said there’s a lot of learning to do from local brands which use a lot of local-level media, including OOH.

Sakhuja reiterated that the focus must be on FMCG, primarily because the sector forms 28 per cent of the ad pie. While roughly Rs 20,000 crore is spent by FMCG firms, about 2 per cent of it goes to OOH. So, if OOH can become more of a part of FMCG plans there’s a huge upside.”

Moving on, Sakhuja spoke about the need to embrace audience-based planning.

On Digital OOH, Sakhuja said this medium stood out for being “interactive” and cited several interesting examples.

Going back on how to manage inventory better, Sakuja shared data showing that in the all India base of Rs 3,500 crore, 60 per cent was through large formats with 7 cities in India accounting for 73 per cent of the entire spend. Sakhuja also said there was a need to make the sector more democratic and egalitarian.

He went on to speak about the medium of Cinema and the reach it has.

Sakhuja then shifted the focus back to the importance of measurement. In terms of traffic count, he said there was a need for a standard, and evolve the Impressions to Reach. With regards to site quality, he said there should be a standard codified inventory listed across markets. For ROI, he spoke about the importance of data to establish the role of medium in building businesses.

“The one organisational change or evolution that needs to happen is the birth of the hybrid planner.”

The success lies in the local story and the success of the OOH medium has to complement with other media. He also spoke about the need for a Google certification programme or a Facebook blueprint. Industry players need to have a knowledge of all domains and must reinvent to be able to exist, Sakhuja stressed.

In terms of collaborations with large media agencies, OOH agencies shouldn’t fall for Chinese whispers, he pointed out. Sakhuja also spoke about developing a joint point of view on how the budget needs to be spent in terms of the market and the media mix.

“The point today is that the consumer is increasingly on the move, the marketing budgets are being swallowed up by mobile. OOH is currently in the periphery. There is a chance to reside in a rightful place in the hearts of the consumers and thus in the heart of the media dollars,” Sakhuja said while signing off.

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