Guest Article: Romancing the outdoors

OOH can transform in shape & size to suit needs, can be just advertising or have content too or can be negligibly small to huge, says Hemanth Shah

e4m by Hemanth Shah
Updated: Apr 12, 2012 9:00 AM
Guest Article: Romancing the outdoors

You read it right…it is not romancing in the outdoors. The yesteryear outdoors or OOH is such a medium that it gets even its worst critic acknowledging it. Whether good or bad, everyone has a view and almost everyone would have had a recent encounter with it.

My first stint in this industry began as a salesperson selling printed paper and vinyl posters at a time when hoardings were still getting painted! Prior to that, I sold wick stoves, ads for yellow pages and even concepts for events. But what set my roving eye was the enterprising nature of the people in the OOH industry and the complexities associated with pulling off a campaign.

The print industry in comparison seemed too staid for my comfort. The tremendous cacophony on what should be the right way to get brand visibility in OOH impressed me so much that I decided to stay, enjoy and make a positive difference. It has been a good long 17 years since and I am still wooed by the great outdoor medium.

What is so exciting or different about OOH, one may ask. Consider this…it can transform in shape, size and form to suit needs. It can be just advertising or have content too. It can be negligibly small to insanely huge. It can woo, interact, convert and sell. It seems like the tantalizingly stunning girl you would want to turn around for a second look. It is no wonder that am hooked, like many others.

From building brands on its own to being a part of the larger media bouquet, it has donned all roles. The OOH domain has expanded from billboards to also include radio, media at retail, digital OOH, mobile interactivity, transit media, etc., with many others getting added as more and more consumers spend more and more time out of their homes.

The move from passive to active advocacy of a brand’s communication (which compels consumer immersion in the brand’s proposition) necessitates activation when a consumer can actually experience, interact and share feedback. This aspect is invaluable to a brand that is looking to grow its market-share.

For the naysayers, this is an industry that has a lot of handicaps and is fraught with opaque dealings. It is true only as much as it could be said about any other industry – from pharma to education to aviation.

However, what is unique to OOH is that it gives an advertiser the cheapest option to make a mistake and learn. I see the convergence and collaboration of the digital, mobile and OOH medium as the rising big wave. As a consumer too, many of these changes are welcome as they would all add to the knowledge before shopping and further the experience quotient.

Is the industry in good hands and is the future of the industry secure? I certainly hope so, for the ones who have been here for long and have invested their best years in the OOH industry. It seems like the industry is ready for payback with all the innovations and newer avenues that can warm a romantic’s heart.

The author is Hemanth Shah, Managing Director and President, OOH Initiatives at Lintas Media Group

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