e4m Webinar: ‘Digital solutions & tech innovations to be key for OOH now’

On the panel - Ajay Mehta, Gautam Bhirani, Siddhartha Butalia, Pramod Bhandula, Upinder Singh and Vinkoo Chakraborty; moderator - Naziya Alvi Rahman

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jul 7, 2020 9:11 AM  | 7 min read
OOH webinar

The second webinar on the Out of Home industry hosted by exchange4media on Monday saw leaders from the OOH ecosystem shed light on the topic: ‘Is OOH advertising ready to make streets feel alive?’ The webinar saw experts sharing insights on what the future is likely to hold for the OOH industry in a post-lockdown world.

On the panel were Ajay Mehta, MD, Kinetic India; Gautam Bhirani, MD, Eyetalk Media Ventures; Siddhartha Butalia, CMO, Air Asia; Pramod Bhandula, Executive Chairman, JCDecaux India; Upinder Singh, Project Director, Edge1 Outdoor Media Management Software; and Vinkoo Chakraborty, Business Head, Rapport India, who shared their perspectives on the revival and future of the OOH industry. The discussion was moderated by Naziya Alvi Rahman, Editor, exchange4media Group.

With the lockdown beginning to ease in parts of the country, Chakraborty shared how agencies are trying to reach out to clients again. “There is a lot of data available on consumers and we have got our own bespoke planning tools based on which we are able to understand consumer mobility and understand the traffic movements. We have been sharing these data inputs with the clients and in some cases have also shared plans with them. A couple of campaigns have also started in the last week of June. This is how we have been in touch with our clients and internally we are gathering a lot of information from across markets - Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3. So we get to know the news from ground zero on what is happening, what is changing because there is so much dynamism in today’s situation. What is right today might not be right tomorrow. So it is imperative at our end to get the most relevant data possible.”

Giving a definitive statement, Mehta stated, “Traditional media is dead whether you’re talking about OOH or any other medium. I think COVID has just ensured that it has happened in a quicker manner.” He further said that any medium that has to survive and thrive in this environment has to be completely result-oriented. “You need to be completely data-enabled, data-driven, technology-enabled, and digitally charged. If today you do not know what your ROI is, I don’t think any advertiser will put in any money like they use to in any medium. Mobility data is the base on which the medium is going to come back. We have to change the way in which we functioned in the past and which means the entire ecosystem — whether it is technology providers, OOH agencies, and owners — we all need to reinvent this business. Of course, clients are coming back and compared to April and May business has improved now. If we have to gain a rightful place in this system and become a growth medium rather than just defending what we have we need to completely revolutionize from top to bottom the way this medium is bought, sold, created, and evaluated.”

Bhandula shared the right approach to go to a brand. “Post COVID we need to innovate and have a different approach with tools to sell our medium. All the stakeholders need to come together and brainstorm for different approaches with different tools and brands or clients will come back. We have to have a hand holding, go back to the clients and bring back the confidence, start working, and go forward.”

The conversation then went on to digital solutions and technological innovations that the experts said would build up confidence in brands to come onto OOH.

According to Bhirani, “Being a digital-first organization, we have always invested heavily into our technology infrastructure. To an extent, we are reaping some benefits from that today. In the last two months, we have been able to create our in-house tool – People – and it will be unveiled this week. We have been able to very importantly quantify the number of people walking into work because at this point in time my network BizTalk is live. So we have been able to quantify and classify. The third aspect to it is that we have created a platform through which we get mobile ids which gives opportunity to brands to re-target them either programmatically through an exchange or we do it for them. This has at least helped us track ROI which is very important today. The footfalls today are going up to 7-8% on a week-on-week basis and we have been able to do between 22-28% footfalls across corporate hubs and co-working spaces. It is only improving as transport has become available.”

Bhirani went on to say that conversations with brands have changed. “Both briefs and the pitch has been changed in the last two months. Everything is purely data-driven instead of the earlier format of the size of the display.”

Sharing his views, Singh said, “Brands are looking at a sentiment that whatever investment they are making is visible to people. We have thought about it and are working on a technology where anyone can avail it from a small to a big player. It will be a holistic delivery and will track measurement on static locations and digital deliveries. In the outdoor industry, measurement is the key. We are trying to give that technology push to those players who are not able to perform on a larger perspective. We have recently come up with a platform on those grounds and are going to dedicate it to the industry. That platform will be a non-commercial platform. As an OOH medium, the most important thing is delivery. Today you don’t need to sell a location, we need to sell an audience.”

From a brand perspective, sharing his views on OOH going forward, Butalia remarked, “As a marketer across the board one of the things we are looking forward to is media planning and taking campaigns live. That has taken a massive hit in this period. Just to keep the excitement alive and reach out to consumers in the best manner possible is something that everyone is looking forward to. We have traditionally spent more than 50% of our advertising budgets in the OOH media. The questions of the audiences that we need to talk to, how many impressions, etc has been something top of the mind for advertisers like us but it didn’t have the same credence because the industry didn’t feel the need to reinvent itself. One of the things that is going to have a massive impact is the nature of the media and the lack of clutter in the market. This poses an opportunity for those who are able to take the first step forward to actually get a lot more visibility. The second reinvention is digital leading the way forward. Those players who are able to deploy technology faster will not just make their pitches more appealing but will also have a long time impact on shifting spends from other categories onto OOH.”

In terms of percentage, there is a major decline in the metro cities. Bhandula stated that while it’s 44 per cent in Bangalore, it’s 76 per cent in Chennai, with Delhi and Mumbai at 49 per cent and 67 per cent respectively.

“We need to propose to commercial to compliment the size of the audience. Everything is data-driven. If we have 30% of people, will charge accordingly,” commented Bhirani.

Mehta also shared that as people start to come out, the focus will be on hyperlocal sites.

Speaking about which brands will bounce back on the medium considering in a month’s time it will be festive season, Bhandula said local retailers, OTT, FMCG and automobile will be the categories more likely to make a comeback during the festive season.

Chakraborty added that BFSI and e-commerce sectors too will make a comeback during the festive season.

“There is a need to quantify to qualify. It's the new era post COVID,” remarked Bhirani.

On a parting note, Singh concluded the discussion saying, “We need to co-exist and we need to take the initiative. We need to use measurement tools or a data tool and it should be a common platform. We are trying to make one platform for the industry. It will be a brand type approach and for this we have to do homework, to make it more data-driven, and we need to focus on the impact report. This is a very beautiful media approach."

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