OOH planning now will be a mix of art & science: Ajay Mehta, Kinetic India

The Managing Director of Cinema (ITV) and OOH (Kinetic) spells out his new client solutions, insights on the in-house tool IOM & trends that will be potent for this new post-COVID market environment

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Aug 3, 2020 8:42 AM
Ajay Mehta

In the midst of the new normal, GroupM in June 2020 announced the appointment of Ajay Mehta as the Managing Director of Cinema (ITV) and OOH (Kinetic). Stepping into this new role, Mehta is all set to develop innovative brand communication strategies for Kinetic OOH clients focusing on consumer relevance.

In a conversation with e4m, Ajay Mehta, Managing Director, Kinetic India, spoke about his plans for brands in this new role, his past learnings, Kinetic’s proprietary tool IOM and some key trends for the OOH industry that will come handy in navigating through this unprecedented choppy waters of COVID-19.

Before this new business path, Mehta was the Managing Director of ITV. He will also be joining the GroupM India Executive Committee. All the ITV teams along with the Kinetic leadership team will report to Mehta while he will continue to be based out of Gurgaon and report to Prasanth Kumar, GroupM CEO.

Edited excerpts below:

Past learnings that have been carried on to Kinetic India.

I am new to this industry and hope to learn a lot and understand this medium deeply over a period of time. Having said that the basic fundamentals of this medium remains the same as others. We are in the business of delivering audiences to advertisers in a cost-effective manner and help them understand what is their return on investment.

My experience of trying to transform cinema from a perception-led advertising to a data-driven medium with clear measurement and monitoring systems will have applications in this medium as well. We are living in a data-centered world and for OOH to be an important part of a client’s media mix, it too will have to evolve to become a data-driven medium and I hope to contribute in this regard.

As you have been newly appointed as the MD of Kinetic OOH what new brand solutions are in the works?
The challenge for brands is always to stand out in the clutter. In an over-communicated world, it is important to have communication that is relevant and contextual which is delivered in an engaging manner at the right moment. I endeavor to identify these moments and the touchpoints for the same and deliver brand communication innovatively that the consumers find relevant.

Plans for the new tool IOM and the solutions clients can avail through this.
I am extremely proud of our strategy team led by Arijit Chakrabarti, which has developed India on the Move. IOM uses multiple data points to track traffic patterns, information which is very important for any advertiser looking at the OOH medium especially in these uncertain times. For us, IOM is not just a showcase tool but an extremely important part of our planning and buying process, so that all the various stakeholders of our business can work together in a uniform manner to deliver value and efficiencies to our clients. Apart from this IOM can have various other applications for our clients as well.

Strategies that OOH agencies need to implement to garner more consumer engagement.
The OOH medium has to fit into the lifestyle of the consumers and provide them with information that they value and want. The OOH medium is not just about billboards or other media spaces but being there when the consumer needs it. If we can create this, we will have more consumer engagement. OOH delivers high impact and recall value and if we use mobile as a second screen, we can increase this even further and increase engagement with the consumers. With technology interventions in the consumer journey, Out Of Home can drive further engagement. Therefore, the time has come for this medium to fit and integrate itself with other mediums - to deliver higher and measurable outcomes for our clients.

Having said that, great OOH planning will be a mix of art and science. Innovations can be one of the important pillars of art. Imaginative work with dollops of creativity can further drive engagement with the consumers.

The key solutions that will drive attraction to the OOH medium, and garner more reach and ROI.
In the new normal, some of the older touchpoints may not be as important as others. As a medium, we have to evolve and identify where the consumer is spending his time. This cannot be done anecdotally but with the help of data. Once these touchpoints are identified and enabled, we will be able to deliver ROI for our clients.

The sector of brands that will thrive in the new normal.
I see all kinds of brands and categories being relevant for our medium. Already several categories are back on this medium such as Auto, Mobile Handsets, BFSI and Media, including OTT players, and if we can create cost-effective innovative solutions a lot of other categories can also thrive.

Which inventories - new or old - will gain prominence in this unlock period?
As mentioned above, there will be some touchpoints that may not have more relevance in the post-COVID world and we are keeping a real-time tab on this. It is an extremely dynamic situation and we need to do this in partnership with media owners.

Will OOH be able to make up for the losses in Q1 with the festival season coming up?
From mid-July onwards close to 150 brands have started OOH advertising and there are more brands starting their campaigns every day. We are hopeful that the festive season will bring festive cheer to our medium as well.

Plans going forward for Kinetic India.
We want Kinetic to be famous for delivering data-backed innovative solutions to our clients in a cost-effective manner. All our work is going to be able to deliver that.

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