Will this Diwali re-ignite the spark in OOH spends?

The OOH industry means business this festive season with 100% occupancy after a really long spell of both personal and professional standstills

e4m by Rasika Kiran Upasani
Updated: Nov 2, 2021 12:58 PM  | 9 min read

The festive season is a time when brands go all out to showcase their product offerings and solutions at a mass scale to ensure maximum visibility. In this respect, OOH has always been a key media investment for brands as consumers move outdoors more during this time for shopping and visiting family and friends on account of the vaccinations.

e4m asked OOH leaders to share which brands are helping them keep the economic momentum lit up and how is the festive sentiment fairing compared to last year’s spends.

Great expectations

According to Jayesh Yagnik, the OOH industry means business this festive season. “100% occupancy is expected after a really long spell of both personal and professional standstills. No amount of emphasis will do justice to what the entire human race has been through in this last, year and a half and I believe that this festive season is good news for all of us. The business has picked up well and I hope that it continues.” 

Gulab Patil, Founder & CEO, Lemma also expresses how the OOH industry is right in the forefront, as audience density in the outdoors edges closer to pre-covid levels. “The festive season without a doubt gets overly aggressive and channels that offer high impact are in demand. The OOH industry of course expects to see this continued spike from hereon, both in demand and audience movement, as things get back to normal and both brands and consumers embrace the newfound appreciation for the outdoors. Additionally, the digital out of home space is witnessing improved occupancy rates with higher demand for programmatic execution across the board.”

Says Gautam Bhirani, Managing Director, EyeTalk Media Ventures: “Our Street DOOH Network has been on 90- 100% occupancy levels over last 3 months and now budgets are also being allocated to our F&B Network - Tagtalk as millennials return to their favourite cafes and pubs.”  

Arijit Chakrabarti, Head of Strategy, Kinetic India also expects an upswing in the festive spends this Diwali and is determined to reach pre-covid levels. “We are possibly expecting one of the best Diwali since pre-covid. Mobility is close to pre-Covid levels across India and in metros, our predictive IOM (India on the Move) models show mobility to exceed pre-covid levels across multiple touchpoints. Cinemas are a key anchor in many malls, which are driving footfalls. Last weekend, the last bastion for Cinemas have also unlocked. Maharashtra has also opened up and is accompanied by a distinct rise in retail mobility. With little indication of a Wave III anytime soon, there is positivity all around. With revenge shopping and revenge travel being the new mantra, the latest metrics also indicate that consumer spending is at an all-time high. The best barometer of OOH investments is occupancy. As per latest site availability reports, occupancy levels for key sites are at 100%.” 

New players in the OOH space

Yagnik stated, “Ideally every category would want to be visible but like every year, this year too, the Outdoor industry will be dominated by the automobile, lifestyle/luxury brands, retail, consumer durables, home décor etc. Another interesting addition would be the travel industry, which has missed out majorly in the last season. Even some categories which are not usual suspects when it comes to Diwali campaigns, have been active this seasons like OTTs, TV Channels mainly GECs, BFSI etc.” 

One of the main industries which have drastically benefitted from this pandemic is pharmaceuticals. Pharma companies generally do not use OOH extensively for OTC drugs but with the addition of a new category called 'Immunity boosting supplement,' they too are exploring opportunities in Outdoor.

"OTT is another sector, although it is not new, a lot of regional platforms/content has grown in the past year due to the phenomenal flux in new viewers, especially women and small-town audiences. With multiplexes and theatres closed, the shift was towards these streaming platforms.

Ed-tech is also another category which is exploding with various brands and depending on the market penetration, one could decide to use this medium geographically in a hyperlocal manner,” he added. 

Sharing a similar point of view, Patil added, “The brands that will or have already invested heavily during the festive season are e-commerce players, BFSI, consumer durables and even large FMCG Brands. Digital-first brands like E-wallets, E-com, Food delivery apps, Fashion have taken to Digital out home as well, to heavily promote their festive campaigns and drive the consumers online. Additionally, a lot of new-age clients across categories are also showing interest.  E-commerce, FinTech, consumer goods, social media, OTT are some of these sectors.”

According to Chakrabarti as well, his agency is noting activities from nearly every category. Right from real estate, FMCG, BFSI, Auto, to tech-based clients including social media and OTT. There are also huge spends by some of the new age clients. Additionally, a lot of new-age clients across categories are also showing interest. E-commerce, fintech, consumer goods, social media, OTT are some of these sectors. 

Guarded optimism

Sharing a positive note, Yagnik stated, “There has been growth for sure. Last year, during this time, we were recovering from an almost unknown threat and even then, Outdoor did well as compared to the previous months of almost nil business. This year, we are well equipped. With a major percentage of the population doubly vaccinated, people are travelling more freely and the acceptance of living with the virus has become a norm. We are now in the phase of being careful and not terrorising, so I certainly believe that business will be good.”  

Gulab Patil shared his views from the Programmatic Digital standpoint. He added, “There’s evident growth from last year to this year especially in the Programmatic Digital space with digital agencies now accepting digital out of home as a mainstream digital medium. Therefore, the overall growth from last year to this year has been exponential.”

“Overall, we are noticing a huge increase in investments in OOH as compared to last year. This is due to multiple reasons such as new clients, larger spends by the top clients, return of some of the older touchpoints like airports and malls where spends were dampened last year,” added Chakrabarti.  

A Diwali of campaigns

According to Yagnik, there are multiple brands that plan Diwali campaigns well in advance, depending on the purchase cycle. “Home décor brands usually start early with brands like Asian paints and Welspun. There are quite a few campaigns that are already brewing for Diwali with various brands, right from retail, banking, real estate, OTTs and so on. A few of the campaigns which are on or on cards are RADO, OPPO, ITEL, GlobalDesi, Indian Terrain, RealMe, Goldmedal, Lodha, BPTP, Raymond, Mx Player etc.” 

Gautam Bhirani, Managing Director, EyeTalk Media Ventures also shared his views on some of the OOH campaigns brewing ahead of the festive season. “BFSI, OTT and Smartphone brands brought relief for the OOH Industry post lockdown and now as we are just a week away from Diwali, the Retail Industry especially jewellery, watches and clothing brands taking over media spaces and driving ad spends as malls, high street, restaurants, cinemas are back to normal. Some key campaigns that we are currently running are Tanishq, Tissot,  Titan, Croma, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Raymond, etc.”  

Status of Metros and airports 

Citing data on mobility rates, Yagnik stated that, with business activities coming back to normal and states across India restarting gradually in a phased manner, the once ‘deserted-during-the-lockdown’ city roads and the other out of home premises are again receiving back their traffic. “During this 2nd wave, airports were not entirely cordoned off, there was movement but with restrictions. Hence OOH continued through a staggered manner. With lockdown in cities, brands who did not advertise previously at airports understood the importance of captive audience. 

Metros have shown a lot of promise starting mid-September, due to the onset of festivities. Eg . Kolkata went 100% occupied 2 weeks before the Durga puja. Mumbai and Delhi continue to live up to the expectation on reach numbers for metros.” 

Focusing on the aspect that the OOH inventory at metros and airports have been the crowd pullers attracting the majority of the brands and shedding a light on the overall recovery of transit OOH media, Patil added, “Airports with its ability to offer multicity audiences and metros offering diverse audience in large volumes enable brands to scale reach with every exposure making it both economical and impactful. The volume across these mediums have reached pre-covid levels with airports witnessing passengers as high as 3.5Mn per month. It goes without saying that transit OOH media has been the first to recover post the lockdown phase and continues to witness high volumes of audience movements almost daily.” 

Chakrabarti shared how investments are expected to continue growing in double-digit percentage numbers for at least the next 5 years with the help of Digital OOH media. “Transit OOH has seen significant levels of digitization. Airports being one of the first to unlock has the best-maintained sites in the OOH ecosystem. This along with the affluent TG that airports cater to has led clients back to the touchpoint very quickly. We see nearly all categories active in Airports including Auto, social media, OTT & BFSI. Luxury categories are back as well, with clients taking long term options. Currently, there are 13 cities with their own metro rail network and spanning over 730+ Kms, it is the 5th largest metro rail network in the world. Built around visible OOH opportunities, it caters to multiple advertiser categories. With mobility on the rise, transit as a medium is growing once again.”


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