Advertisers in India are just warming up to digital media: Noomi Mehta, Selvel One

Noomi Mehta, Chairman & Managing Director of Selvel One, talks about the undulating path of the OOH industry, how digital is the future and that new talent and tech upgrades are necessary for having a growth-oriented future

e4m by Aarti Pahwa
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 8:57 AM

Noomi Mehta, Chairman & Managing Director of Selvel One, in conversation with exchange4media talks about the undulating path of the OOH industry, how digital is the future in ambient environments and that talent is a necessity in the industry for having a growth-oriented future. Excerpts:

What is the current Indian OOH advertising market scenario on the worldwide platform?

OOH in India has a very bright future. I would say India is a very challenging OOH market because of its fragmentation and because we still need to put a lot of core data sources in place. However, at the same time, there are complications which occurred particularly when very large funds entered into the Indian market from a couple transactions which failed in the past. Definitely, news travels fast and therefore, the reaction of authorised investors varies for the Indian market.

Indeed, the bad image of Indian market hasn't been able to attract big investment and has been unable to give returns. But from then till now, I think things haven't moved forward in the right way, the way they should have. Aside from the financial performance of the sector, I believe that the industry is lagging in adopting leading worldwide trends. Advertisers in India are just warming up to digital media, a medium that has been driving growth for OOH players globally for years.

How do you think the industry will improve its perception at a global level?

Infrastructure growth, government investment in airports and highways, digital OOH, curbing malpractices, investment in technology and people and so on should help. And finally, an all-encompassing and universally acceptable ROI measure should be brought. 
To become a regularised and unified body, the OOH industry has to be more flexible and convenient. The industry should be much more transparent to their clients. A deliberate and planned effort to establish an industry status could build a good relationship with the authorities as well as clients. We have to get together to become a truly advanced and unified force to strengthen the OOH industry in India and must push for the agenda that outdoor should be treated as an industry. 
What are your views on Digital OOH and going forward, do you think that this will become a huge growth driver for the OOH industry?

One question that begs to be answered is, is the Indian society ready for high tech expensive displays or will they fall victim to thievery, vandalism and hooliganism, prevalent in all corners of our country. First and foremost, change is required in the existing policies. One of the biggest reasons why many media owners have not moved towards digital media is due to lack of clarity regarding policies. The second issue is that the numbers of digital OOH sites are very few.

Last but not the least, media planners need to set the budget aside for digital OOH. Once we work on all these points then we can expect another Times Square in India. Also, mobile interaction, social media integration and Augmented Reality have a long way to go before they are accepted as a regular part of OOH media in India. Globally, these technologies have become an integral part of any OOH campaign.

What is your message to young entrepreneurs?

The OOH industry is dynamic and challenging, the earth, sea and sky is your world; explore and create possibilities. I would want young entrepreneurs to join the industry and make it their passion. I enjoyed it and you would too.

Where do you see the industry headed in the next five years? What must be done to make it more robust?

OOH is also expected to maintain double digit growth in the next few years. In the upcoming years, the opportunities for the outdoor industry is going to grow manifold as India is a growing economy with varied industrial parks, smart cities, coming in, railways and airport authorities calling for privatization in terms of giving advertisement rights and more. IOAA implementing the SOP would count as one of the big achievements. The SOP will give a more rational and systematic guideline to the whole fraternity in terms of doing the business as well as fix many issues related to payments, illegal media assets, etc.

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