Will BMC's new rooftop hoarding policy bring cheer to the OOH biz?

While some industry experts say the new policy will drive growth for digital OOH and indoor advertising, others opine that the new regulation is not fair

e4m by Anjali Thakur & Noel Dsouza
Published: Mar 17, 2020 8:38 AM  | 5 min read

The BMC’s new policy putting a complete ban on rooftop hoardings also includes strict guidelines aiming to reduce clusters of hoardings at prime and tourist locations. As per the new rules, there should be a minimum gap of 100m between hoardings, foot overbridges and skywalks to keep it free from visual cluster. 

The BMC order came into effect on March 12, 2020. 

We spoke to industry experts about the new guidelines, whether it will ring in loss of inventories for the OOH industry players or will it bring good times for the industry?

Noomi Mehta, Chairman & MD, Selvel One, has reservations about the new policy. He is of the opinion that the BMC should first go for a long-term policy. “If we want OOH players to invest big bucks, foreign players to come in and latest technology, the government should allow us and do whatever is necessary to do change the infrastructure. We need a long term policy, which will last for 12-15 years. If the government wants the cities to look good and dynamic we can recreate Times Square but will the government make us do that? Will there be a policy that makes sense and enables us to do this on a long term? If they do we are here to invest."

Sharing a different perspective was Ramesh Bhaskaran, National Creative Director, Madison Media, who said the change in regulations won’t affect inventories. “From a creative perspective, it doesn't really impact us. For us, everything involves innovation and location. I think with this new policy it will drive growth for digital OOH and indoor advertising and I don’t think it will impact the inventories.”

As per media reports, the civic body is not allowing any new hoardings on rooftops and is not renewing old accounts too.

On the other hand, Rachna Lokhande, Co-CEO, Kinetic India, said the new policy will cut down inventories and create a lot of ruffle. “The new regulation policy that has come out is going to create a lot of ruffle and is going to change a lot of things in the industry. The new policy is as per a long-term vision to clean up the city but the ongoing Metro work is already hampering visibility for a lot of media. So technically, if a media partner is putting up an inventory and not being able to sell it effectively, the 100m gap will make it easier for every media partner from the point of view of making a deal. Now, although this is going to cut down inventory the advantage is that a fairly high number of consumers will be adopting to commute by the Metro too. Advertising on Metro will be the next big thing but for it to sustain one needs to put policies in place.”

According to Gulab Patil, Founder & CEO, Lemma Technologies, the new guidelines won’t affect the inventories much but there are several challenges which need to be addressed. “The change in policy is meant to build infrastructure to help us build the smart cities. But we need to rethink about what the alternative channel can be. I think the alternative solution is digital media or static. But there should be a standard for the site or location that becomes part of the infrastructure.”

On what the OOH medium can do to stay in the business, the Managing Director of an OOH company said on the condition of anonymity: “We need to think about OOH and build assets that are more indoors which do not require the permission of the government. At the end of the day, the advertiser only wants the reach and they want engagement, so provide that indoors. I would see that today there is a huge opportunity for anyone who wants to take up that challenge. We should understand the fact that the rest of the world is at 60% digital OOH and there are massive opportunities in going indoors and opting for digital with automation.”

Reportedly, the new policies will majorly focus on digital hoardings. The digital hoardings can be set up at malls, multiplexes, shopping complexes, commercial buildings, petrol pumps, and other places which has LED displays available.

The state government is also moving towards green governance with the ad policy promoting the use of solar panels for illumination of hoardings with a 10% rebate on the original licence fee for hoardings that have solar panel.

The new policy is likely to act as an additional source of income, says Payal Patel, Senior Marketing Manager, Devangi OOH. Societies view them as a means to pay their maintenance bills, especially those located at a road junction or the main street, Patel said. However, a number of buildings are not designed to take that extra load as they are poorly maintained and do not have the capacity to take that extra weight, she added.  

“The new guidelines do not give clearances or permit any new proposal on rooftop hoardings and restricted renewal of licences of existing rooftop structures or terrace hoardings. This has been done for the safety of the public and to avoid further environmental clutter created in the city,” she said.

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