2019 General Elections, a crucial time for the OOH space

Industry experts on the growth and relevance of OOH this election despite the growing popularity of digital and social media

e4m by Anjali Thakur & Dolly Mahayan
Updated: Aug 21, 2019 4:45 PM
Outdoor advertising

Elections are always quoted as one of the most lucrative times for OOH industry for being the most approachable and larger than life medium for the political parties. As the date for the 2019 General Elections inches closer, campaigning by political parties has started to gain momentum. Parties are expected to spend as much as Rs 400 crore on OOH domain ahead of the elections, according to industry experts.

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is one of the crucial medium for the parties to connect with voters despite the growing popularity of digital and social media.

“Outdoor has specific nuances, which is physical and locational in nature. It cannot be switched off, skipped or blocked. It is this physical presence that makes it the most transparent of mediums. That’s the power of OOH,” said Sujit Banerjee, director and CEO, Ecosys OOH.

According to Banerjee, Outdoor ads are expected to feature political leaders with their achievements. He says, “Brands will have a tongue-in-cheek conversation with the client on topical issues. Conversation about national narratives, patriotism, and importance of vote will take place. We will witness bulletin boards kind of contextual conversations in outdoor, which will be heavy on text.”

So what kind of growth will the industry witness? “Political spending on outdoor media always helps, March/ April which is comparatively a lean period shall have great occupancy numbers for all the media owners. At an all India level, roughly Rs 350-400 crore is expected to be spent on Outdoor campaigns which is just like a steroid shot for the industry reeling from slow down,” said Alok Gupta, director, Graphisads. 

However, “Overall growth in 2019 will be as projected around 6 per cent but due to elections a 0.5% extra can be expected across,” said Shailesh Soni, Associate Vice-president, Laqshya Media Group.

According to Haresh Nayak, Regional Director, Posterscope APAC & Managing Director, Posterscope Group, the TRAI regulations will also provide an edge to the OOH industry during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “As per the new TRAI regulation, the consumers have options to choose the channels of their choice and this will affect the reach of TV. Hence the OOH spending will be doubled,” said Nayak.

On asking how the approach of the agencies will be different from that of 2014 elections, Soni said, “At Laqshya Media group, we are all geared up to serve political parties with new age requirements. With our new measurement tool SHARP and all geo tagged inventory across multiple cities we can actually give a comprehensive research based hyperlocal OOH plan. With the help of machine learning we can actually help political parties hit the right cord with the right TG.”

“It shall be bigger and better,” says Gupta adding, “Digital Outdoor media is also expected to be used significantly by the parties.”  Whereas Pawan Bansal, COO, Jagran Engage begs to differ, he says, “The format will more or less remain the same. From the planning point of view, 1.5 crore first time voters are there and political parties might target youth. We can witness hoarding/advertisement near malls or the college campuses just so that the parties are able to convey the message to the first time voters. I guess, people will not splurge so much, messaging would be targeted. They might start with the initial burst and might ramp up the campaigns during the day.” 

According to experts, the OOH industry should expect a good hike this election season. “Political parties have always used OOH as part of their general rallies and in promoting their promises and achievements to the general public but restricted. Since 2014, spends have increased drastically across regions and use of OOH medium is not restricted. Different formats are being used in innovative ways without losing relevance,” Soni added.

However, not all the OOH experts agree that this time of the year will be profitable for them. Noomi Mehta, CEO, Selvel Advertisers thinks that elections are not a good time for hoarding owners. He says, “2014 elections were a bad taste in the mouth for several hoarding owners in MP and UP because they never got paid from big political parties. Also, regional parties rarely pay us. Honestly, it is not a good time for us.”

Bansal adds, “Since the code of conduct is in place, the spends will go down as compared to 2014 elections. I don’t see a rise because last time a lot of political parties started advertising before the code of conduct came into place. The key challenges would be getting permissions from the authorities to put up media. Per say, spends can only go up if lots of parties actually advertise.”

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