RFP for OOH measurement to be floated soon: Numazar D Mehta, Selvel One

At the e4m NEONS OOH Conference, Numazar D Mehta, Chairman & MD, Selvel One, delivered a Special Address on ‘State of OOH industry in the current environment’

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Mar 12, 2020 6:05 PM
Numazar D Mehta

The e4m NEONS OOH Conference held in Mumbai on Thursday opened to a powerful speech by industry stalwart Numazar D Mehta, Chairman & MD, Selvel One. Addressing the audience, Mehta stressed on the need for cooperation and collaboration between the OOH industry players to help protect the medium which he said was, time and again, falling victim to unreasonable rules and regulations.

Not one to mince words, Mehta came straight to the point. “Democracy in India has failed the outdoor advertising industry. It has failed us hopelessly.” In his half-an-hour address he drew the attention of the audience to the reasons for this failure. He also shared his personal experiences as a businessmen and as one who has had the opportunity to sample first-hand the difference in policies in the more developed countries as compared to India.

Drawing parallels between the phenomenal growth and mind-boggling valuations that OOH companies in countries like America and Australia to the growth of the OOH industry in India, he expressed how here it was more about the struggle for survival. However, Mehta recalled how at one point the India market was hot property but now the scenario had completely changed.

“Today where are we? We are struggling for our very existence.”

In order to arrest this downfall the industry needed to understand the challenges that were being faced, urged Mehta.

Mehta also questioned the readiness with which the state governments and the government agencies had banned outdoor advertising time and again. “Can you ban outdoor advertising? Is it an illegal business? It’s the right of the state government to pass reasonable regulations but is a ban reasonable? In that case, declare it an illegal business. Everybody understands reasonable regulation is a must. Everybody understands that the priorities of society change over years and there may be a need for you to adjust those structures of your sights or even remove some of them. This is perfectly understandable, we understand this. We are also responsible members of the society. But what happened to fair and just compensation?” asked Mehta.

Drawing attention to the state of outdoor advertising in several states and particularly cities like Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore, which was repeatedly hit by bans and regulations, he said: “I bring these topics to you because these are topics of national flavour. You may be feeling secure in your own small world, but the small world is getting smaller and smaller and you will ultimately be affected. Each and every one of us will be affected.”

Mehta reminded that the OOH industry too like the media had the power to communicate and the power to make opinions. Elaborating on this, he said, “I believe now is the time for us to get together. Perhaps it is time for activism. Perhaps it's time for us to get our voice heard when it really matters.”

Stressing on the need to invest on digital technology, Mehta said that digital gives far greater insight, far greater reach and far greater power. He shared how digital advertising has come of age around the world. He cited the example of the UK, where it accounts for more than 50% of the turnover with less than 10% of the inventory.

Digital is a powerful messaging tool for OOH, explained Mehta. “It is reactive, it is active and participating. This is the strength of the outdoors.”

In order to explain how the industry could get the government to pay attention to the sector’s grievances he gave the example of the OOH industry lobby in America - how there they bind together to ensure that their interests are protected by those in the corridors of power and that it was time for India to do the same.

“If you are going to succeed, we need to make up our minds here and now, to collaborate, to work with each other and stop working against each other. We're taking the first rudimentary steps, we're sitting with the agencies and I've come to the conclusion that we have to float an RFP finally for measurement. After an RFP is floated in the next month or so, we will hopefully decide the companies which would conduct the study by May or June. Coronavirus is causing us take a pause, because we are not sure whether people will come down for the briefing and to explain the technologies that they want to use. But we are making a start. It's a tiny start, but it's a start still.” Mehta said.

He also urged the industry to stop the madness of cutting rates. Sharing a personal experience, he said, “We had some sites along the Mahim flyover railway site, 120 feet by 40 feet, beautiful site, which used to sell for about Rs 24 lakh a month. We lost the latest tender. Somebody else bid Rs 28 lakh.” He reiterated that ‘the senseless ego battle’ needs to stop as it was only harming the interests of the industry.

Summing up, Mehta once again encouraged the industry to be active and to educate the government of their challenges. “It's time to work together. It’s time to speak to each other. It's time for us to collaborate. I'm perfectly willing to collaborate with anybody, perfectly happy to work together with anybody so that we can have a united face and a united front, for the government and for the clients and for the agencies so that we can have rational policies that makes sense.”

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