OOH players positive about festive season spurring revival

OOH players say with most brands looking at moving inventory during this festive season, Out of Home has the perfect opportunity to bounce back

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Aug 14, 2020 10:25 AM
Festive Season OOH

With the country embracing the New Normal and the authorities easing lockdown restrictions, Out of Home advertising is finally making a comeback from its Covid-induced hiatus of nearly four months.

Brands are slowly going back to OOH with ‘Welcome Back’ campaigns, a few noteworthy among them being from the likes of ZEEL and Cadbury. Signs of revival emerged in June with the Bombay High Court granting permission to OOH agencies for putting up ads from their their clientele.  

The reopening of malls also provides OOH a huge opportunity, considering the festive season is round the corner, say experts. An OOH player shared that from mid-July onwards close to 150 brands have started advertising on the medium with the number increasing by the day.

Airport OOH advertising has also started picking up as dwell time for passengers has become longer now due to the COVID-19 checks in place. With a plethora of inventories to benefit from, most industry players are confident that Diwali and the upcoming festive season might be the saving grace for the OOH sector, although their estimates indicate it will be only 60-70% of last year’s Diwali revenue.

We spoke to OOH owners and agencies on their plans for the festive season, sectors they think will be seen on billboards during this period and the growth they are expecting.

Sectors that will aid revival

According to Dipankar Sanyal, CEO, Platinum Outdoor, “I think by the start of the festive season this time all the major congregation points and institutions would have opened except schools and colleges. Mobility report shows there is a substantial jump in people movement towards various touchpoints and so every category will try to take advantage of the season. Automobiles, footwear, banking, apparels, FMCG, retail and mobile handsets are likely to lead the way.”

Sai Nagesh, Chief Strategy Officer, Laqshya Media Group says a healthy rebound can be expected during the festive season. “Since brands have an inventory build-up, they will be looking at moving that inventory during the festive season. Sales are very much dependent on visibility and marketing. So, brands will want to stay top-of-mind for their consumers. Our research study has stated that more than 84% of consumers across our metros will notice OOH as much or even more after the lockdown period and so it’s the best time for brands to advertise."

On the return of advertising, Nagesh added, "We have begun receiving queries from brands wanting to resume advertising (some of the best brands have already resumed 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."

Yogesh Lakhani, CMD, Bright Outdoor Media stated, “Unlock 3.0 has attracted the automobiles industry already as people want to travel by their own transport rather than public or cab sharing portals. It will also attract the clothing industry, online shopping portals, the gifting sector and the entertainment industry, especially since TV channels and OTT platforms will be in full swing.”

As for the early starters, Fabian Cowan, Country Head, Posterscope India opines, “Based on our conversations with clients it appears that the automobile industry (both 2 and 4 wheelers), electronic companies especially mobile brands, OTT Platforms, and the financial sector would be early starters this season.”

Plans & initiatives to get brands back on billboards

Coordinated strategies and optimised consumer-contact solutions by combining digital, OOH, and experiential works for clients well, said Nagesh. “In order to make our OOH and experiential offerings more interactive, we added a digital marketing company to our network, which gives us the bandwidth to offer our clients an unbeatable offline-online combination. This will be an added benefit for our clients during this festive season. We would like to mention our Zee TV campaign that got massive digital support thanks to the client's cutting edge creative campaign supported by our strategic OOH planning," he pointed out. 

Meanwhile, Platinum Outdoor’s Sanyal said, “Our engagement with the clients is more data-driven to give brands confidence that people are moving out and the growth is steady and upward. This data is shared at the city and town level. The clients are definitely warming up to it.”

According to Bright Outdoor Media’s Lakhani, “We at BRIGHT always believe in being the change rather than asking for change or waiting for change. We have already started providing 30% discounts on our rates to every client the existing and others who want to come on board. It is us who will bring the economy back to normal no one else shall do it for you. Be first and you will see all shall follow. Agencies product owners will be forced to plan to advertise to get their desired set targets.”

With regards to some other strategies, Posterscope’s Cowan shared, “We are strong believers in the power of Out-of-home and have been evangelizing the same since the Unlock 1.0 phase. We have been keeping our clients engaged with research documents, trend analysis on COVID led developments, and even initiated an industry-driven campaign called ‘Billboard Talks’. Our clients have acknowledged our efforts as thought leaders and we believe a lot of our brand partners will get back on the billboards soon.”

Focus on revival rather than numbers

Sharing his perspective, Cowan said, “Well, the pandemic has had little or no respect for numbers and has not just disrupted but in a way toppled the proverbial applecart. However, it’s time for advertising to get back on its feet and the festive season is the perfect opportunity for that to happen.”

Throwing in a note of caution, Lakhani said: “Let’s not be so ambitious as COVID-19 has failed every economist and has taken us all by surprise. So we should not predict and declare the percentage spends. This time we shall make hay while the sun shines and grab as much opportunity as we can to overcome the losses due to no billing for the last 100 days. OOH, hoarding has minimum turnaround time and can make the campaign visible to the target audience as the client wants it to be. I will be blunt that the decided target will not be achieved but we can we fill in the bucket rather than expecting it to be full till the brim.”

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