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Will OOH lose out on a big-ticket event like IPL 2020 due to Covid?

OOH experts say that brand activations on the sporting event will see a huge dip this year but they are hopeful interest will pick up towards the second half of the tournament

by Noel Dsouza
Published - Sep 16, 2020 9:14 AM Updated- Sep 16, 2020 3:32 PM

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The OOH industry took the biggest hit during the nationwide lockdown, recording zero filings in the April-June 2020 quarter. Now after months of having zero visibility, the IPL extravaganza could provide some relief for the OOH industry but with fewer people wanting to step out yet, IPL spends have been majorly invested in TV and OTT this year. Nevertheless, OOH experts are still optimistic that the second phase of IPL which coincides with the festive season will see a turnaround for the industry.

The increase in mobility due to the easing of the Covid restrictions has brought some positive outlook for the industry along with relaxations in the functioning of restaurants, metros and malls.

A recent traffic count tool from Madison OOH has even indicated an upsurge in mobility across markets with heavy traffic witnessed across metros. Even the Pitch Madison Mid-Year review report 2020 had predicted that OOH would see billings in the range of Rs 950-1,500 crore in the second half of the year.

On this optimistic note, e4m spoke to OOH leaders regarding the impact of COVID on IPL OOH ads this year.

According to Dipankar Sanyal, CEO, Platinum Outdoor, “The impact of IPL related campaigns in the traditional media has been low. If I look at last year’s spends during the period IPL was held, the IPL related campaigns contributed to 0.32% of the total spends during that period. A large chunk goes towards brand activation which will obviously see a huge dip this year.”

For Gulab Patil, Founder, CEO, Lemma Technologies, big-ticket events like the IPL are always considered as key variables adding to the growth of the OOH medium.

A Times OOH Spokesperson sharing which inventory IPL use to spend on in the previous years said, “In the IPL season we see a lot of traction at our airport and traditional media from the sponsors of IPL. As they do feel the need to advertise in other mediums to promote and create a surround with a higher recall for their IPL investments.”

As of last year, DOOH inventories at cafes and restaurants used to leverage the IPL season. The DOOH inventories had integrated brand solutions for consumers to have an immersive experience whilst watching the match.

Laqshya Media Group in a consumer report has stated that eating out with peers was the only activity a majority of millennials were missing and they were willing to do immediately post-lockdown. With restaurants and cafes being given the all-clear at selected metros in the country, dine-in operations in Delhi in the month of August saw about 30% footfall.

An added bonus for DOOH players has been the MHA’s guidelines for digital signage displaying Covid-19 guidelines in restaurants. This mandate makes DOOH a key communication driver for all safety information and dining rules in the new normal. It also poses as an added inventory that brands can invest in.

Sharing his take on this trend, Sanyal said, “As restaurants open up there will be a lot of restrictions with people being wary of ambient locations. However, I see this trend of IPL leveraging DOOH picking up in the second half for DOOH properties in restaurants.”

According to Patil IPL has been a crowd-puller at restaurants that cast live matches, so much so that restaurants experience a considerable uptick in sales. “The consumer sentiment towards restaurants during the unlock period has been quite strong, with over 31% of people willing to visit the restaurant almost immediately. Additionally with limited activities, and hangout locations restaurants will be flooding in with a lot of pent up demand for socializing and casual catch-ups. Hence inventory surge is inevitable although not at par with pre-COVID levels due to the social distancing norms. With further relaxation in operational hours in most of the metros, IPL will boost the inventory levels and help recover losses in comparison to the current scenario,” Patil added.

Gautam Bhirani, MD, EyeTalk Media Venture, shared during last IPL season they had sold out a majority of their inventory pan India as all matches were broadcasted in the pubs and cafes they are associated with. “Last year, the title sponsor had even collaborated with TagTalk for a live social media integration where they launched the #PerfectFan contest. It was a location-based live social media integration while cheering for their favourite team.”

Talking about the opportunities for brands this year, Bhirani remarked, “With liquor services resuming and IPL around the corner, brands have a great opportunity to reach and engage both GenZ and millennials in a receptive, happy and a captive environment with TagTalk. Being a content-driven platform, the brand can sponsor Covid-19 content, use live social media channels, and also drive cost-effective performance-driven campaigns targeting peak days and hours with programmatic.”

Commenting on if brands will show solidarity to revive the OOH industry, Sanyal said, “That will be wishful thinking as budgets are restricted and curtailed so showing solidarity because of IPL is far-fetched. Fortunately, IPL this time is coinciding with the festival season and so brands are likely to be seen in the OOH media.”

Times OOH offered its take on brands using this opportunity of IPL to get OOH back in their media mix: “With the IPL season round the corner, for the Indian market, it is a big annual sports event and this year it is coupled with the festive season unlike last year IPL used to be conducted in the summer season. During such time a different set of categories used to get activated. However, this year, due to pandemic, consumer sentiments have been low. So, the majority of the brands during this season would be keen to harp upon this opportunity to connect with the customer revive with new launches planned across industries like - auto, handsets, OTT and many more. Every year we witness a surge in our OOH media traction when the extravaganza is on as most sponsoring brands wish to create an impactful surround during this period by creating noise and maximising their brand communications through OOH.”

Times OOH added, “IPL and the franchise teams want to stay connected to the viewers and their loyal fans, so we have over the years’ experience that the IPL, also advertises in our airport and Metro media. We, at Times OOH, during this period come up with innovative product offerings for brands like; real-time content sponsorship on DOOH, fan parks for IPL teams to engage as part of the on-ground activations, sponsoring live streaming of matches etc and we have had many takers of such innovations over the years. We are also optimistic to receive good traction in this season from the advertisers and IPL will surely give a boost to the overall sentiments in terms of spending.”

Brands should trust the potential of OOH as an effective medium, Patil stated. “The surge in footfalls is evident across clusters — airports buzzing at 80%-90% of pre-COVID capacity, Corporate segment with 35%, footfalls at Malls at 6%-7% of pre-COVID levels within the first week of opening, vehicular traffic almost at 75% of pre-COVID.”

“More than solidarity brands should step outdoors using advanced solutions like programmatic DOOH as a protective gear to safeguard their ad spends from wasteful exposures. The medium hasn’t lost its efficiencies. In fact, they’ve only gotten better with advanced technology, data and audience targeting capabilities,” Patil noted.

The general perception in the industry is that there is hope if brands look at OOH as a potent media mix, especially for a big event like IPL.

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Tags Ooh Dream11 IPL 2020 COVID-19