How the Mumbai OOH scene is coming alive again

OOH players say the unlocking of the city coinciding with the festive season - the reopening of malls & traffic back on roads – are all driving the recovery

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Aug 26, 2020 4:23 PM
Mumbai OOH growth post lockdown

Billboards are making a comeback, albeit slowly. Mid-June onwards OOH agencies have been busy with ‘welcome back’ campaigns for brands like Mondelez, ZEEL and Muthoot Finance. Since July, outdoor players have been witnessing a growth in brand investments, clearly some early signs of recovery.

The ‘bounceback’ happened with the Bombay High Court saying that OOH owners could stop displaying COVID-mandated ads. The lockdown had severely affected the billboard medium as the very essence of ‘outdoor’ wasn’t the social norm anymore. According to the Pitch Madison Mid-Year Report for 2020, the OOH sector saw virtually no billings in the in April to June ’20 quarter.

Meanwhile, Mumbai OOH owners since May have been appealing to the court for a waiver of licence fees on hoardings. A court hearing, to be held on September 9, will determine if they get a relaxation in payment of fees till August ’20. The Bombay HC had earlier issued a stay order, stating that OOH owners need to pay the fees for July and submit it ‘Under Protest’.
The focus now is not on numbers but revival, say OOH companies in Mumbai as outdoor advertising de-grew by 99% during the lockdown. With the city beginning to ‘unlock’ itself, Bright OOH has acquired new sites in Mumbai at Mahim Causeway and Santacruz, both high traffic locations. In the DOOH space, Edge1 implemented its web-based OOH Software Edge1 to manage static and digital sites. Navi Mumbai-based Ronak Advertising too has begun automation of their out-of-home advertising business workflow.

e4m spoke to some of the prominent OOH players in Mumbai about the growth in OOH post lockdown, brands that are helping boost the revival, and how the re-opening of malls is an added advantage to heal the economic burns faced during the lockdown.

Festive Season Appeal

With the festivities coming along with the unlocking of the city, people are now out on the streets to complete the pent-up purchases, says Dipankar Sanyal, CEO, Platinum Outdoor. “The malls are opening up and mobility reports show more and more people are on the road. Overall it’s the right time to return to OOH,” Sanyal added.
Sharing similar sentiments was Sai Nagesh, Chief Strategy Officer, Laqshya Media Group, who is confident that this festival season will be a turning point for the industry. Two separate sets of analyses done by Laqshya, using independent, non-refutable data on time taken to travel on key arterial roads and traffic recovery, shows a healthy revival of movement across the top 12 cities, Nagesh noted.

“Whether it is pipeline stocks or stuck inventory, brands will be seeking momentum in their offtakes during the festive season. After being stuck at home for so long, the consumers’ desire to step out will only accelerate during the festive season,” he remarked.
Brands will want to stay top-of-mind for their consumers and what can be better than the OOH medium to remind them about a brand choice to be made. “In-depth studies done by us have indicated that more than 84% of consumers across metros will notice OOH as much or even more during this unlock phase and so it’s the best time for brands to use this medium,” Nagesh asserted.

Sharing more on their campaigns and how DOOH has been a key driving factor in this revival stage, Nagesh said, “OOH campaign amplifications on the digital medium have yielded great dividends for our clients and we will be raising the bar during the festive season. Case in point is our very recent ZeeTV campaign that got massive digital support thanks to the client's cutting-edge creative campaign supported by our strategic OOH planning.”

Yogesh Lakhani, CMD, Bright Outdoor Media stated, "We at Bright to keep the memento on for the forthcoming festive season are ready to discuss the discount and value addition to each and every client from 1 lac to crores and more all shall get the same service from our e

Faith Restored

According to Sanyal, an increasing number of brands are coming back to OOH. “I don’t think pegging a percentage on growth will be of much use as during the lockdown stage outdoor spends had gone down by approximately 99% so any spend will look like a huge jump. However, it is comforting to see more brands and categories using outdoor now.”
Sharing a different perspective on this, Nagesh stated that most clients have not yet utilised their OOH budgets and this combined with a reduction in spending on some mediums is going to benefit the Out of Home medium. These budgets may not be 100%, but significant proportions will come into OOH/digital-experiential and digitally enhanced OOH.”

Boost From Brands

Brands have started making enquiries, says Nagesh. “We have already received multiple queries from brands wanting to resume advertising, particularly those who had long-term contracts with us and had put their campaigns on hold. We are also seeing demand from regional brands that rely heavily on OOH for advertising. Brands that had a good run during the lockdown, like OTT and e-commerce sites, will also want to advertise more.”
Fabian Cowan, Country Head, Posterscope India, shared automobiles (both 2 and 4 wheelers), mobile handsets, OTT Platforms, and finance (banks/loans) as well as real estate would in all probability help in the revival.

Hike in Road Traffic & Re-opening of Malls

The road to recovery might be faster as Madison OOH’s traffic count tool shows that traffic in major junctions has already resumed, to the extent of 50-60% by the end of June. The re-opening of malls in Mumbai on the 5th of August has also given the business a much-needed boost.

According to Laqshya Media Group, brands dealing with luxury items, clothing, electronic goods (the ones with new launches), and accessories have started advertising in malls. “With the increasing traffic count on road brands are slowly but steadily returning to the OOH media. Re-opening of malls is another welcome move for retail business and other blue-collared jobs associated with malls and for the advertising industry. Mall advertising helps brands stand out at the audience’s point of purchase and aids their decision-making process. A lot of DOOH media is being used in malls to create greater impact. Footfall at malls greatly increases during the festive season. This will encourage brands, especially those having a presence in the malls, to advertise and help steer the purchase decision of customers,” Nagesh remarked.

As per Cowan, “Advertising is driven by the consumer and where they make their presence felt. We have seen that since the unlock stage there has been a welcome albeit steady inflow of advertising in OOH and with malls opening up now it is only a matter of time before we see some traction at these locations as well.”

Lakhani says, "Its the good initiative taken to revive and get consumer out of home with prevention and precaution to get the economy on track for revival. This will definitely help all the existing brands who have started OOH and attract others to start the revival journey and get on the track of success." 

Measures to amplify growth

Cowan advises, “There are many benefits of advertising during a downturn, and brands that have done it in the past have come out of it stronger. This is an opportunity and brands can use it to their benefit.”

With consumers becoming very cautious about spending, brands need to optimise their consumer contact initiatives by looking at omni-channel presence. Nagesh says, “To deliver the statement above, our solutions straddle digital, OOH and experiential together. To make our OOH and experiential offerings more interactive, we added a digital marketing company to our network, thereby giving us the bandwidth to offer our clients a seamless offline-online combination. This, we are confident, will deliver exponential benefits for our clients during this festive season.”

Sanyal shared that in these times brands should try to create more impact and reach. “Media owners need to add more value for the clients proactively like greater spread within the budget, attractive rate packages. More importantly, media owners should see how they can take further this momentum they would be gaining in this festive season. It would require a long-term planning on their part,” concluded Sanyal.

Lakhani commented, "In my opinion we all have to work in sync and unity not to break the client relationship. Ensuring that the value for money spend is being given to every client who is coming forward and helping in starting the journey to revival we all need to help each other to ensure we get the economy back to normal."

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