How non-Metros accelerated OOH activations in the lockdown

Fewer Covid-19 cases, good monsoon and brands focusing on the regional markets helped the sector to thrive in non-Metros, say industry players

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Published: Oct 6, 2020 8:59 AM  | 4 min read
Regional OOH

Even when the OOH sector was reeling under the constraints of the lockdown, the regional market continued to back the Out Of Home players with ads and brand activations.

The medium has always been localised in its approach but with the global pandemic this strategy has been accelerated and amplified with more brand activations and OOH ads being executed in rural areas as compared to the metropolitan cities.

OOH leaders shared insights on how the regional market had faired better during the lockdown period, their experience with the non-metros and the secret behind this success.

What led to OOH’s triumph in non-Metros
According to Jayesh Yagnik, CEO, MOMS Outdoor Media Solutions, the low rate of Covid-19 cases in the smaller towns as compared to the metro markets helped in keeping the medium alive.

“The mobility of small towns has recovered much faster as compared to metro markets. These are the main reasons why OOH brand activations and campaigns did better in small towns as compared to metro markets,” shared Yagnik.

For Vritti iMedia, a key player in the regional OOH and regional brand activations space, good rains and agriculture were key factors. Rajesh Radhakrishnan, Founder, Director, CMO, Vritti iMedia says, “The impact of COVID-19 was severe in Metros and people had to stay indoors during the lockdown, affecting the large format Outdoor and activation business drastically. Administrations of towns like Lucknow, Allahabad and Kanpur were quick to seal the borders. This helped in controlling COVID-19 and hence they bounced back faster than the metros. Also, good monsoon has further boosted the agriculture and agri-related businesses, making way for more disposable income in the hands of farmers. This helped brands to start focusing on rural India aggressively and indeed will help grow the rural OOH and activation business even further.”

Another prominent OOH regional player shared, “Non-Metros have witnessed major investments with a push from the government and private investors. Sectors like Real Estate, Automobiles, Ed-Tech, E-Commerce, White Goods and Retail are driving growth developing Cities. Aware of this shifting trend and potential, marketers are focusing on these potential markets and increasing spends in these cities. Also, the strict lockdown imposed across metros forced their attention to newer market penetration.”

Brand Investments in Regional OOH
Speaking about the campaigns executed in the non-metros, Radhakrishnan shared, “We did campaigns for brands like AIC, Dabur and Fena in small towns in rural India. For the AIC (Agricultural Insurance Company) campaign, we ran 35 vans in the rural parts of Rajasthan, promoting crop insurance to farmers. For Dabur, we used the same approachable Brands- On-Wheels concept and launched two CSR campaigns. While one activation focused on building immunity for police personnels, the other was for relieving exam stress among IIT and NEET aspirants and their parents. The police personnel activation was executed in Ghaziabad and the IIT x Dabur brand activation was done in areas like Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur, Varanasi, Patna and Bhopal.”

Talking about the approach towards OOH in the non-metro demographic, Yagnik said, “The regional campaigns have been considering large format media and visibility around TG centric touchpoints. Also, there has been a lot of reverse migration from metro markets in these towns, which has increased the potential to reach more consumers.”

Another OOH player shared that they have been seeing increased enquiries for non-traditional and traditional media across these rural markets. They expect good marketing spends across non-Metro cities from November. “We are seeing increased demand to advertise from brands across industries and are bullish on non-Metro cities,” they shared.

Radhakrishnan further said that brands were focused aggressively on sales happening in the local markets. “Outdoor activations like RWA activity, retail shop branding and activation not only ensured sales but also provided convenience to consumers. Sectors providing health, immunity, cleanliness and insurance were in great demand and most of the activations happened in those sectors during the lockdown period.”

From Big Format to Localised Content
Yagnik commented, “OOH was always a localised medium. With the pandemic, the need for localisation has increased. Touchpoints have evolved and residential areas and market places have shown higher mobility. With Unlock 5 now the spread of touchpoints and media selection can widen however we need to carefully consider the mobility while selecting the prime locations.”

Thus, OOH continues to be a fundamental element in an integrated marketing approach. Moreover, in today's environment, marketers are mixing OOH with Digital to achieve PIN code specific objectives as OOH adds to the hyperlocal campaign’s impact, frequency and overall effectiveness. Hence the demand for OOH will increase to achieve localized objectives. OOH has always been playing a larger role in brand visibility and brand recall. With digital integrations, it has now added more versatility than ever, making it one of the most potent media in the marketing mix.

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