Technology will secure the future of OOH: Chairman & MD, Selvel One

Noomi Mehta on the various aspects of OOH advertising and why it is crucial for brands

by Dolly Mahayan
Published - Sep 6, 2018 8:56 AM Updated: Sep 6, 2018 8:56 AM

There are hardly any brands that do not advertise on OOH, says Noomi Mehta, Chairman and Managing Director of Selvel One. The new LED screens add the touch of glamour to a medium that has long been the workhorse of the advertising world, he says. “Technology is a friend to OOH. It adds flexibility and gives a creative boost to the medium. Technology will secure the future of OOH around the world.”  

In a conversation with exchange4media, Mehta talks about the various aspects of OOH advertising and why it is crucial for brands.

Edited excerpts:

What are your views on digital OOH? Do you think it will become a huge growth driver for the OOH industry?

All over the world, digital has taken a disproportionate share of the OOH media pie. And this has not happened by cannibalising the classic OOH media, but through a quantum jump in the share of OOH in the overall media pie. I see no reason why the India story should be any different. In fact, given the density of population in cities, the growth story should be even more dramatic. By and large, just 5 to 7 per cent of digital OOH expenditure is equivalent to nearly 50 per cent of the total OOH expenditure.

What changes do you think technology will bring about in the OOH landscape?

Technology has been a disruption for media. Newspapers and magazines all over the world have suffered a sharp decline in their hard copy formats and subsequently their advertising support, and have been forced to adapt IoT as they moved online. Television too has come under enormous pressure. Channels are suffering as players like Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, YouTube and Hotstar have become the preferred medium for viewing.

Technology is a friend to OOH. It adds flexibility, colour and immediacy via latest hardware and helps place advertisements better by automatically changing products and creatives to match the audience. It has given a creative boost to the medium. Studies have shown that the efficacy of digital advertising increases substantially when bolstered by on OOH campaign. The medium cannot be zapped, switched or silenced as it cannot be manipulated by bots, clicks and automation.

The efficiency of buying OOH has increased dramatically with the use of technology. Technology can give an idea of the reach, frequency and likelihood of seeing as cameras capture eye movements, pauses and even smiles when ads are viewed. Predictive analysis on movements, passageways and destinations make it possible to pinpoint the ads that have actually influenced people and contributed to sale. This gives the marketers an invaluable ally and tool in evaluating and allocating market spends. This may take a while to percolate into the Indian market, but when it does catch on, it will spread like wildfire. Yes, technology will secure the future of OOH around the world.

Is the OOH domain bringing more brands into its fold? What is your particular experience in this regard?

There are hardly any brands that do not advertise on OOH. The new LED screens add the touch of glamour to a medium that has long been the workhorse of the advertising world. The final barrier of resistance to OOH will crumble with the drama, effect and impact that giant LED screens can provide. Once clients get to experience the effectiveness of the medium, the market will explode.

What do you think is the impact of advertising on the street?

The fact that all other media uses OOH shows its impact. When you think of the world's largest brands, you automatically remember their OOH campaigns -- Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Google, Samsung, Apple, and Amazon. In fact, Netflix has bought off OOH companies along the West Coast of USA to advertise their own programmes! Need we say more?

How does Selvel provide leverage to brands in terms of visibility, reach and recall?

Visibility and reach are in-built in every location that we own. Over the years, we have pioneered almost every size and format in OOH-- from monopoles to backlit, to halogen lighting and then to metal halides. We put up street lamps, created parks and even engineered and financed a traffic signal system in a major city. We pioneered LED screens 15 years ago to provide reach and visibility with a variety of options.

Any challenges that you face in the Indian OOH scenario?

The problems we face are the same as others in different parts of the country. There is a belief that billboards cause danger to motorists. Sadly not a single study has ever proven any link, even casually, between OOH media and accidents. In fact, the major accidents in the country are on highways!

We at IOAA are trying to get a model code approved by the Ministry of Urban Affairs so that the basic guidelines can be universally adapted with changes for local peculiarities. Every municipal corporation interprets OOH differently with some by-laws that govern our business dating back to the days of our independence! And of course every commissioner who takes charge automatically knows everything there is to know about OOH without even bothering to study the industry. So changes keep happening in rules and regulations every time there is a change in the top executive of a municipal body.

New OOH needs time and this requires stability and long-term contracts. Given proper encouragement, OOH can contribute substantially to the city infrastructure. We have already proven that we are better than the government in maintaining civic infrastructure entrusted to us on BOOT basis. Smart cities need smart OOH and that means large investments.

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