Will festive season bring the shine back for OOH sector?

Ahead of the festive season, OOH experts share their outlook for this year's market, and the brand categories that are showing interest

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Published: Oct 14, 2020 9:16 AM  | 7 min read
OOH Festive Outlook

The out of home (OOH) sector has had a rough patch this year due to the Covid pandemic, and continues to face hurdles even as it is trying to revive itself. The spirit of the ecosystem, however, is thriving with 'Welcome Back' campaigns for consumers since the Unlock began. Giving hope to the sector is the fact that traffic mobility is rising. According to a study by Laqshya Media Group, the city of Mumbai alone has recorded traffic travel time reaching between 84% and 77% of its peak back in January. This has resulted in more brand visibility, and several prominent companies like ZEEL, Muthoot Finance and Cadbury have taken on billboards to promote their campaigns. Also, many OOH owners are offering discounted rates in order to get brands back on the medium.

Like the pandemic, the recovey path too is not easy for the sector. Factors like zero filings in Q1, long court hearng for licence fee waiver and lack of any measurement system to give brands a sense of ROI are only adding to the challenges. But the festive season combined with the most awaited sporting event IPL 2020 has come as a ray of hope for the OOH ecosystem. Also, the reopening of restaurants and malls is spurring growth for the industry.

While the festive season spends may not be as gala this year as in the past, OOH players are positive that it will help with the economic revival of the sector. However, experts feel that the recovery curve will not be V-shaped and the growth will be slow.

We spoke to OOH agencies about their outlook for this year's festive season, and tried to find out which brands are showing interest in the medium and how much spends are expected ths year during the festivals.

What the sector expects

Jayesh Yagnik, CEO, MOMS Outdoor Media Solutions, says they are seeing traction in the OOH sector this festive season too. “More and more brands in various categories have lined up their campaigns during this time. Since life has almost got back to normal in most parts of the country, OOH too is set to come back to its pre-Covid level very soon," Yagnik shares.

According to Atul Shrivastava, CEO, Laqshya Media Group, OOH propels the concept of zero touch media for the viewers, and with traffic back on road, it is gaining the preference with each passing day.

Shrivastava opines that a good creative can make an OOH campaign very effective. “Good creatives based on a strategic OOH-cum-digital approach enables the medium to deliver the message and create an impact which is remembered for a long time. As per a study carried out by Laqshya, Mumbai traffic travel time has reached 84-77 % of its peak (January 2020) traffic time, whereas Delhi is at 75%. Bengaluru, the city most amenable to WFH, also shows that travel time has reached 80% of the peak. This shows that life is coming back to normalcy,” Shrivastava says.

He adds that with the IPL season coinciding with the opening up of cafés and restaurants pan-India, it is another opportunity for brands to reach out to their customers with strategically placed ads.

Sharing his perspective on this year’s festive outlook, Sujit Banerjee, former Director & CEO, Ecosys OOH, says, “The good news is that most of the sectors have opened up and the economy is also showing some green shoots. But the real picture is that with massive economic aftermath of the pandemic, with job losses and pay cuts, the mood will be a bit of sombre. Hence, we might not see a boisterous festive season. We might see a subdued occupancy. But having put the worst behind us during the period of the lockdown, the situation is going to get better from now onwards. But there will not be a V-shaped recovery. The occupancy will slowly and gradually go up.”

Talking about their expectations on this year's festive season, Times OOH states, “As we are witnessing re-opening of the markets, there is a lot of pent-up demand. Also, some sectors will see a surge due to a change in consumer behaviour, for example, for automobiles, the need for personal commute will drive sales. Similarly, the need for hygiene will drive sales of personal care products and so on. With several launches planned in the festive season, brands would want to gain as much as they can to recover from the unfavourable first half of the financial year. Owing to these reasons, brands would want to reach audiences with the OOH medium as they will be the most progressive ones. We can expect a surge in OOH media demand in the festive season. We are already getting positive signs and have on-boarded multiple campaigns, some of which are already live.”

Brands that may invest in OOH this festive season 

“All non-metro markets started performing well a couple of months back, and now even metro markets are generating enough enquires. This clearly demonstrate the kind of demand which has been created in OOH. We are seeing maximum demand across Auto and BFSI during this period. Pharma and FMCG in personal healthcare segment are other sectors that are spending this year as they are riding the immunity wave. Usually, retail used to dominate in this period. But this year, the demand across retail has been low due to obvious reasons,” Yagnik remarks.

“While Automobile, M&E, Mobile handset categories are leading the revival, we are also seeing demand from regional brands that rely heavily on OOH for advertising. FMCG & BFSI brands have also returned to OOH advertising in urban as well as tier 2/3 cities. Brands which had a good run during the lockdown, like OTT and e-commerce sites, will also want to advertise more,” informs Shrivastava.

At Ecosys, a Publicis Groupe company, Banerjee shares that they are offering Mobile + OOH solutions which is seeing a lot of traction with their clients.

“Sectors like automobile, both two-wheelers and four-wheelers, are back in OOH. Insurance and debt industry are coming back. If I do a little crystal gazing, e-commerce will invest in this medium. With cinemas opening up, the blockbuster movies will advertise in this medium. FMCG category is advertising in tier 2 and rural markets," comments Banerjee.

Time OOH says, “While we continue to see traction from regular categories that spend heavily on OOH like Automobile, Handsets, BFSI, OTT and so on, we are witnessing some new categories, like Home Decor, Education and even B2B sectors like IT, also trying the medium.”

Growth or decline compared to last year

Yagnik feels the festive season will be important this year as the OOH sector is on the path to recovery post the Covid lockdown. “Brands have been gradually coming on the media and we have seen good recovery by some key categories. At Madison, we think festivals will be somewhere close to normal. There are key brands that are getting active in this period. The industry should also achieve almost 80 per cent recovery during this period.”

Shrivastava remarks, “With the start of the festive season, brands have already started advertising. Several brands have a huge inventory pile-up, they will be liquidating that inventory during the festive season. Unutilized OOH budgets combined with a reduction in spends on some mediums are going to benefit the medium. These budgets may not be 100%, but nevertheless, significant proportions will come into OOH/digital-experiential and digitally enhanced OOH.”

Banerjee shares, “As we all know the economy has contracted by 23%. Various studies have shown that there has been a de-growth of 20% -30% over last year in the OOH space.”

Sharing their insights Times OOH states, “The decline compared to last year is inevitable keeping in mind the tough conditions caused due to the pandemic. More importantly, we are witnessing the recovery and we are leaving no stone unturned to drive business focussing on the benefit of OOH.”

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