We're moving towards tech-driven OOH industry in 2020: Srikanth Ramachandran, Moving Walls

At the 10th edition of e4m NEONS OOH Conference, Srikanth Ramachandran, Group CEO, Moving Walls, spoke on 'OOH 4.0- Anatomy of the Modern OOH Planner and Media Owner'

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Mar 16, 2020 9:03 AM
NEONS OOH Srikanth Ramachandran

The out-of-home industry has seen a lot of changes. From integrating technology into the medium to using geo-targeting and also measuring reach, OOH has a come a long way and still has a long way to go. But what is the way ahead to make the medium more effective and grow?

Srikanth Ramachandran, Group CEO, Moving Walls, spoke about “OOH 4.0- Anatomy of the Modern OOH Planner and Media Owner at the tenth edition of Neons OOH Conference & Awards.

He started off the session by sharing how the OOH industry has grown but is way behind other mediums. “On one hand, we can say that OOH is growing, in the last five year from 2014-2019 OOH has grown by 40%, on the other hand,  the overall media spends have grown at 80% which means we have lost share. Then you look at digital has grown 371% during the same period.  So, the bottom line is I think we are in trouble. And if you look at what is happening with the COVID-19, the first thing that comes to mind is people are going to slash budgets in OOH and as a business, we saw a lot of heat during SARS in 2003. And you're going to see that again. If you take China and Hong Kong as an example, first-quarter most of the out of home companies have reported a 70% decline in their revenues.”

Ramachandran further added, “We look at 2020, I think we are moving into a tech-driven out of home, I think there is an opportunity. The two consistent themes that you're going to see as in 2020, is going to be around automation and data.”

Talking about the modern planner and media owners, he said that there needs to be changed in perspective, “I think there was talk around the fact that OOH needs to be not in the hands of specialists alone, it needs to be with every planner. That's when OOH is going to maximize, or OOH should be at the centre of a plan, not outside the plan. So, when we look at it, a modern planner should have tools where he's able to look into what assets are available, he's able to look at the data is able to make decisions and he's able to buy seamlessly. So that's really how the modern plan is going to look like. Meanwhile, the media owners also have to make some changes to make their inventory open, or inventory available, and put in the processes to make it more outcomes-based so that the clients gain confidence in spending money on out-of-home.”

Adding a note about automation, he said that automation does not necessarily mean programmatic. According to Ramachandran programmatic is another space wherein simple terms, if digital has grown by about 400% in the last five years,  and if one takes a small 5% of the digital budget, and move it to out of home, one can double the out of home industry size. “So the real challenge for us how do we take some money from TV? And how do we take some money from digital and how do we bring it to out of home? If we do that successfully, I think this industry would grow,” he emphasized.  

Later during the session, he said that changes needs to take place at the agency side, but it’s also going to change at the media owner side.

Talking about the digital ecosystem, Srikanth said that media owners need to think about it differently. Sharing an anecdote with the audience, Srikanth said, “One of the conversations I was having three or four weeks back in India with a media owner, he shared that he was having trouble in his business. He said that the Business is not doing very well the clients are very demanding. And then he said, data investment should we be making it? So he was reluctant to make the investment. So my question to him was to say, if your clients are changing, and you don't change, then how do you expect money? So, the media owners now have to think digital, they have to make the investments in data, they have to make the investments. So we think about thinking digital, working digital, need to figure out how to sell digital? And finally, how do they integrate to the digital and mobile ecosystem so that some budgets that are going there could also come into our form. The second part of it is you need to digitize your processes, your inventory, your availability, what types of sites you have, all of that needs to go digital. Once your inventory is up, then a larger community can access it.”

“And this becomes the basis for changing some of the processes. And you need to add mobile to this ecosystem. I think for some of you who might have come to fair pay last year, one of the conclusion was mobile is an OOH screen. I think those are a few changes that I think the media owners need to make. Obviously, you need to digitize your assets. But without changing a screen from static to digital, there are changes in your business that you can make in terms of bringing your inventory online, in terms of changing your sales process, in terms of providing data and mobile around it, so that you can digitize at a lower cost while you're changing the physical assets as well,” he said.  

Srikanth also shared some real live examples of how these changes are attracting budgets or attracting use cases in various markets, he showcased a few examples for the audience.

In the interest of transparency, Moving Walls have launched the first blockchain campaign in the world, where every sport that you buy either at a spot level or CPM level is being tracked and reported on a blockchain. “So, this will be a very interesting project. This would be one of the ways that I think clients will start building confidence in what they are spending.

Lastly, he said that 2020 will see more of tech play. “You're going to see a lot of techniques and we need to talk the technology language so that clients listen to us. So that's why we need to talk in terms of data, programmatic, automation, we need to talk about blockchain, we need to talk about all the things so that the client who's spending money on digital feels confident enough to put out a form in the centre of what they are doing.”

Summarizing the session, Srikanth said, “2020, I think it is a tech world that the out-of-home has come to. If you are in static, digitize your process, if you are in static add mobile to it. If you are in digital add more automation and programmatic to it. I think it is the world that we are going to live in that both the media owners need to make some changes, agencies need to make changes and hopefully, that will help the industry grow and take an active share in the overall media.”

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