The Social Street has maintained healthy margins despite slowdown: Mandeep Malhotra

Malhotra, Founding Partner, CEO, The Social Street, spells out the trends and challenges of the OOH sector, and how the industry has fared this year

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Dec 12, 2019 6:09 PM


Mandeep Malhotra

Mandeep Malhotra is the Founding Partner and CEO of The Social Street, which was incepted in 2015. With over 20 years of experience in the field of strategic media planning, business development, and client relationship management, Malhotra has won over 600 awards in the category of promotions, activation, outdoor and media including Cannes Lions, D&AD Pencils, Abbys, and Emvies.

Before The Social Street, Malhotra served as Executive Director and President of DDB Mudramax of the DDB Mudra Group. He was responsible for the 16 specialist units in the OOH, retail, engagement and experiential space that made MudraMax one of the most sought-after and recognised agencies in the country.

The Social Street disclosed two key appointments recently. Last week, it announced Parag Pandya as Sr. Vice President of OOH and Experiential for the West and East region. And yesterday, the agency appointed Rohan Shah as the new Senior Vice President to head the North region.

Talking about how the agency will leverage these two new appointments, Malhotra said: “Personally, from a business point of view, I see organisations going to a growth plan. For the first three to five years, we have had able leaders. It’s time that we get into version 2.0 with younger people who are more tech-savvy – the ones who can think of brand solutions for integrated offerings. We are revamping our agency and getting ready for the next five years.”

Malhotra also shared his views on the growth of the OOH industry in 2019: "The industry hasn’t grown a lot this year. The market conditions have really slowed it down. But we have tried to maintain healthy margins.”

“The usage of tech is something that the team has brought together well this time and I’m proud of that”, shared Malhotra. A key factor that propelled the agency to the forefront is the sustainable brand relationship they maintain from a visibility point of view for the consumers.

When asked about the brand sectors that are spending more on OOH, Malhotra remarked: “In my predictions last year as well, I had said OTT will be a big spender. Although, the Real Estate sector has slowed down a lot in terms of spending on OOH.”

Sharing his views on the DOOH space and the work they are doing there, Malhotra said, “All brands have moved into the screen format like transit screens. Some places have now started offering a digital solution. Hotstar is a brand that we have been closely working with, which is substantially into the digital foray.”

“The government sanctions and permissions are a challenge. But from what I know and understand about the city, Mumbai is just around the corner to get into an interesting change from a DOOH perspective. There will be a lot more screens. A lot of LED is coming in. I think the state elections have derailed these projects a bit. But there are permissions coming in, which will change the way DOOH is perceived and seen”, shared Malhotra on the challenges of the OOH space.

When asked how the festive season has been for OOH players, Malhotra shared, “There has been no growth. Usually, advertising faces the brunt of any economic slowdown, and brands hold back on it when the business isn’t the best. It was an investment for some brands who didn't spend on advertising due to the economic slowdown.

Digital screen permission will be something that will help the OOH industry in the coming year and Malhotra believes that will be a key trend in 2020.

“Important cities and locations will see digital investment. It will be interesting to see whether a layer of offline data and mobile consumption habits are sort of married together. I’m sure there will be efforts this year, but they will take time. In a couple of years, your handsets probably will start deciding what communication you are exposed to. That will be the best time for creativity from a DOOH perspective. It will be a merger of mobile consumer habits and DOOH”, commented Malhotra.

Lastly, speaking about The Social Street's plans, going forward in the OOH space, Malhotra signed off saying: “We are getting a lot of new talent in. I don’t see any reason why OOH won’t grow in the next two years. Therefore, we want to be rightly armed with good talent and ideas for our client base.” 

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