Unified measurement system will boost growth for OOH biz, say industry heads

In the current COVID economic scenario, brands will be able to leverage the unified measurement system in the OOH ecosystem to a large extent, point out experts

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Published: Jul 6, 2020 8:34 AM  | 6 min read
OOH Unified Measurement System

Most mediums have a unified measurement system in place — Radio has RAM and TV has BARC. Newspapers too have the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) that ranks print readership. These insights have been helping brands advertise on these platforms, enabling them to go for slots that will garner better ROI. This consolidation is, however, lacking in the OOH space though.

Industry experts say that a unified metric system like this will drive growth in the industry as it will allow OOH companies to be able to provide data to brands who wish to advertise on the medium. This could turn out to be a big advantage, especially in the current COVID economic scenario. This standardization will also help with the fragmentation of prices quoted by OOH owners. DOOH can help with amplifying this uniformity as it is on the rise and will also change how inventory is sold by owners.

We spoke to OOH industry experts to understand how this standardized approach will help them in the long run, in terms of planning and pricing depending on the data provided by the metric system.

According to Gour Gupta, CEO, The Max, and MD of Tribes Group, a unified measurement system often comes into play where the OOH industry is regulated by common laws that govern the ecosystem of data sharing, inventory management, and inventory visibility. “The day India adopts any such common framework that brings media owners, party data aggregators and agencies on the same page, the fees and media cost will be driven by factors of demand and supply. Having said that, India is gradually moving towards building consortiums of sorts that will bring leading agencies, media owners and aggregators under a common forum,” remarked Gupta.

Sujit Banerjee, Director, CEO, Ecosys, a specialist OOH agency of Publicis Media Groupe, says media owners should provide metrics like audience exposure to their sites, so that cost is driven by the number of people likely to be exposed by the media instead of the charge being determined as per the location’s importance. “Quality over quantity should define the cost,” he added.

Talking about how a unified measurement system for agencies will lead to owners not quoting hefty fees for campaigns, Banerjee says, "The business is largely operated on per sq.ft cost metrics in relation with locations similar to real estate business. Due to unorganized and location-based media – OOH has wide geographic coverage which results in each location various media owners. A maximum number of brands keeps OOH out of their annual retainer contract and float briefs to various agencies and vendors in order to have cost benefits. As a result, media owners charge cost as per the demand created for the media."

Banerjee further explained, "It is a need of the time, the media owners provide metrics like audience exposure to their sites so that cost is driven by the number of people likely to be expose by the media instead of charging cost as per the location importance. Quality over Quantity should define the cost."

According to Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO, Madison Media & OOH at Madison World, a unified currency is the best for the industry to grow. “Traffic counts, reach and frequency, and site quality all go towards reading campaign deliveries against objectives and improving ROI. It has little, if anything, to do with preventing owners from charging hefty fees. Better and industry-approved metrics will lead to driving the right price. Some media owners may be able to take up prices, many may need to reduce.”

Backing a unified measurement system, Haresh Nayak, Group MD, Posterscope South Asia & President, Posterscope APAC, says it will bring out optimization in terms of planning, deliveries, getting the right KPIs for media for each and every client.

Commenting on the delay in putting a place the unified system, Mandeep Malhotra, Founding Partner & CEO, The Social Street, said: “We talk and yet deliver nothing collectively as an industry. It’s relatively easier to just make money remaining fragmented as-is and thus the inertia, but yes to sustain in the long run we should be pulling up our socks and acting now. This economic crisis will put more and more strict filters on us to prove ROI and without measurement system, we will stand to lose to other media.”

For Srikanth Ramachandran, Group CEO, Moving Walls, a unified approach works well as it enables standardization of audience measurement for both the buy-side and sell-side of OOH. “Until we adopt a unified approach, with a common currency in place for audience data measurement, the measurement will stay siloed as many OOH players have their own form of measurement,” he explained.

Sharing more insights, Ramachandran said, “The market is already fragmented in India and most of the agencies are trying to evolve their own measurement tool. It will confuse the brands when different agencies pitch for the same sites without a standard metric in place. Hence it’s important to have one measurement system to be followed by each one for better parity or pricing and transparency. This will not only unify the agencies on one platform but will also let agencies win pitches based on strategy, understanding of the brands or categories, and reduce resources to run their businesses.”

For Gulab Patil, Founder, CEO, Lemma, the industry has been deliberating bringing in standardization in terms of pricing or even a common buy type for long. “Digitization of OOH inventory to an extent is fostering uniformity in terms of how the inventory is sold, subsequently bringing in some parity in terms of the pricing. Having said that, the scale at which digitization is happening isn’t sufficient to drive major changes immediately but is offering directional value to the industry to move towards a standard practice in terms of inventory pricing and buy type.”

It is to be noted that in March a number of OOH leaders did come together to form a Request for Proposal (RFP) with regards to the formulation and implementation of a measurement system for the industry. A decision was to be taken in June but the global pandemic delayed things again.

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