Uniformity in regulation is extremely important for OOH: Alok Jalan, Laqshya Media Group
At the e4m NEONS OOH Conference, Alok Jalan, the MD of Laqshya Media Group, discussed the need for government regulation in the OOH industry, measurement metrics and aligning OOH with digital
Day 2 of exchange4media’s NEONS OOH Awards and Conference ended on a rather interesting note with Alok Jalan, MD Laqshya Media Group in a candid conversation with Naziya Alvi Rahman, Editor, exchange4media, speaking on all things OOH. Jalan touched upon the need for government regulation in the Out-Of-Home industry, measurement metrics in the works and the need for OOH to align with digital. He also shed light on his over-two-decade-long journey with Lakshya Media Group and the direction the company is now gravitating towards.
The two areas that Jalan elaborated on during the fireside chat were government regulation and measurement. He termed the lack of persistency in regulation as a major roadblock in the way of OOH industry players. “Every city has its own regulations, which makes the whole thing extremely difficult in terms of format sizes. Uniformity in regulation -- if not nationwide, then statewide -- is extremely important. If it can be done nationwide, then people can plan things and invest in infrastructure and media. Unless there is a clear guideline from the Urban Development Ministry, as to what can be done and what cannot be done, addressing things will be difficult,” he remarked.
Jalan added, “All of us have mobile phones. So wherever we are travelling, whatever we are doing is getting captured in a way through digital. There are mobile applications where you get data available. So there are data points you cannot tamper with and that are extremely valuable. But coming to measurement, we are looking at permissions.” He revealed that within the next six to eight weeks things should shape up better.
He continued, “Some kind of research has been done in markets like the UK, US and Australia, which I would say is the old methodology that does a traffic count, survey and rating of all the sites. There are new service providers also who are depending on technology and not so much on factors like physical traffic count. So I think we’re looking at a combination of the old and the new methodology to come up with the right metrics.”
He highlighted how players in the industry, the world over are coming up with a new way of measurement. “There are companies who are looking at taking satellite images, also and going down to the street level to calculate our own forecasts,” Jalan revealed.
According to him, India is just scratching the surface when it comes to Digital OOH and that the space will take a while to pick up steam. “Unfortunately, due to a lack of regulation, governmental issues and a little bit of vandalism issues, long-format digital OOH will need a while to take shape. So I think very soon, we are expecting a policy and once there’s encouragement from the government, you’ll see long-format digital OOH taking over as well,” he asserted.
He believes that it all boils down to hyperlocal advertising when it comes to digital OOH. “Mobile and digital are two mediums that can be as global as you want and as local as you want. No other medium gives this kind of flexibility. I would say that digital OOH is an extension of mobile,” Jalan said.
Furthermore he remarked, “OOH is the most utilised but undervalued medium in the country.” Jalan also mentioned how people are now increasingly saying that OOH should become part of a brand’s media plan. “Now digital is basically becoming mainline. OOH has to align more with digital than any other medium,” he observed.
When quizzed about which sectors that can leverage it more than what they already do, Jalan opined that FMCG and BFSI can spend much more than what they're doing right now on the medium. “FMCG believes more in TV than any other media. Similarly, BFSI believes more on print than any other media but things are changing fast,” Jalan remarked.
Speaking about his association with the group, he said, “The journey goes back to 1997, in today’s day and age startups are very fashionable but at that point of time, they were not so fashionable. We were indeed a startup. We started with our own little capital of a lakh and from the first year itself, we made profits year-on-year. It has been an interesting journey. We have entered into multiple formats and ventured into international markets. We had our share of success and failures. As of now, I think we are very well placed to take things forward and make OOH one of the lead mediums for many clients,” Jalan stated.
Sharing his learning about international markets from an experience, he advised that it is extremely important to understand the market dynamics before venturing into a market.
“We invested in Dubai and introduced Air Conditioned Bus Shelters, which was a one-of-its-kind project, which involved deep research and a lot of capital. But then, the market went down. So we had to let go of the project completely. Knowing the market well is the key to venture into any unknown category. You're doing the right kind of due diligence when you’re entering into unknown territory; it is extremely important that you need to see how supportive the government is on private investment, or what the legal framework is in a particular country,” Jalan said.
Moreover, he spoke about the company’s newly-launched hyperlocal measurement tool called SHARP, which can be used for events and mobile advertising. “It gives you data at a hyperlocal level. We are seeing a lot of client interest in this product,” he said.
On Lakshya Group’s major focus areas ahead, he said: “We want to be in a space where the youth are. Youth today is consuming lively out-of-home, experiential and digital. So these are our focus areas. We are one of the largest in OOH. We are large in events as well and working towards exceeding further in digital as well. A combination of these three to target the youth and eventually delivering the ROI and objectives that brands set up for us.”
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