Achche Din for OOH: 28 billion INR by 2018 - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

Influential industry and brand leaders publicly endorsed OOH during the two-day conference at the Outdoor Advertising Convention at Mumbai's Renaissance Convention Centre. While many spoke about the challenges, the overall sentiment seems to be positive.This Sunday Column looks at how OOH has been primed to become 'the next big thing' in technology circles for a few years - and can be pushed further into the mainstream, across the country.

14 Aug 2015 | By Noel D'Cunha

The OOH industry is slated to grow by 4.8%-5%. That is the good news. But according to a presentation by Anupriya Acharya of Zenith Optimedia, markets like Singapore and UK will see 50%-60% of the industry's revenues being generated from digital outdoor campaigns. That's the not so nice news for print; especially wide-format print.
And even though the two days of the Outdoor Advertising Convention in Mumbai was impressive, it raised a lot of questions about the direction of the industry.
The grim reality for the Rs 2,500-cr industry in India was what Gaurav Deepak, co-founder and MD, Avendus, stated. That the family-owned OOH firms were mostly funded by internal accruals. And most of them operated sans a business plan or institutional template. These were the hurdles, according to him, for inducing a VC/PE to fund businesses.
So, scale and consolidation in the OOH industry hold the key if a marquee deal will have to be made which catapults OOH into the league of A-listers. A single-digit GDP growth, more airports and malls are boosting the wins. But sometimes, to stay ahead of the game, one has to do things the old-fashioned way: Research and keep your finger on the pulse of things.
In doing so, Deepak said the OOH players need to ask what is the ‘next big thing'. He felt it could be the integration of Internet, mobile, enterprise hardware and software since there is enough critical mass coming out now, and it will create enough value over the next ten years. Whatever it is, it makes sense to invest today rather than a few years later when the market gets more mature and catches a wider fancy,” he added. 
This comment sounded like sci-fi for a lot of delegates in the room. Especially a media owner from Aurangabad, who also owns a packaging unit.
Yet the numbers are: by 2019, there will be 3.85-bn smartphone connections and 1.46-bn tablet active devices worldwide.
Marry digital to OOH
Smita Jha, leader, media and entertainment, PwC, in her presentation on day one stated that across the globe, growth in physical infrastructure is increasing the bandwidth of the OOH medium itself. This growth, combined with that of DOOH advertising, will offer opportunities to interact with these devices, increasingly including technologies such as near-field communications (NFC), allowing advertisements to act as points of sale.
This aspect was echoed by the bankers (Rajat Mehta of Yes Bank; Jasneet Bachal of Kotak Mahindra Bank; Anand Dubey of IndusInd Bank) in a panel discussion.
Mehta said, in the case of Pepsi's 'Like Machine' campaign, the brand put up a vending machine that asked people to like Pepsi's Facebook page. On doing so, the Pepsi gave a free can of drink. This plan, he remarked, was a fine example of marrying digital and social, which "creates shareability and virality."
Jasneet Bachal pointed out to Kotak's 'Kona Kona Kotak' campaign that put up a message on runways. Also, she spoke about Heineken's 'where do you want to go' campaign, which asked travellers to cancel flights and travel to a mystery destination on a whim. The brand chose the perfect place - the airport, for the suitable TG - the travelling spirit. Both tied back well to the brand image of being youthful, fun and spontaneous.
Anand Dubey mentioned how IndusInd Bank used Gurgaon's Cybercity metro station as a branding opportunity - perhaps India's first completely branded metro station.
Brands are using new technologies such as RFID tags and QR codes and this is a trend that could increase in the future; what with the Mahindra Reva campaign which integrated its digital OOH with social media. A list of questions was displayed at regular intervals at Mumbai’s Mahim Causeway. A smart campaign for the electric car.
Among all the tattle and talk; six themes were reinstated.
  • Infrastructure investment will drive OOH growth in India
  • Major cities will be the most lucrative markets for OOH
  • Interactivity with consumers will become a key part of OOH advertising
  • OOH is the “traditional” advertising medium
  • Stricter regulations will be a growing challenge
  • Brands and media agencies are seeking measurability
The numbers, when crunched, suggest that the Indian OOH advertising industry increased from 17-bn INR in 2012 to 19-bn INR in 2013, a growth of 12%.
This increase at a CAGR of about 8% is expected to reach to about 28 billion INR by 2018.
As Jha said during her talk, this growth is being driven by the fact that consumers are spending more time out of their home. "The chances of seeing billboards and other mediums of OOH advertising are much more."
Robust measurement system
But for all this to gain traction, there needs to be greater probity.
As Sam Balsara mentioned, regulatory bodies like IOAA with AAAI should create a robust measurement system that paves the way for growth. Balsara, pointed out that when the MRUC (Media Research Users’ Council) was launched, the OOH industry showed reluctance in joining it. To allay suspicion, the OOH industry should arm itself with a robust software to ensure that the trade practices are in the open, in fair and transparent manner.
Rupinder Singh Sodhi of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Amul) echoed this point of view in his Valedictory Address.
Sodhi mentioned how a robust OOH strategy backed by brand Amul meant 80 hoardings across India. Plus railway branding, bus shelter branding, graphics on distribution vans and 2,000 Amul-owned vehicles.
He suggested that syndicated data to measure industry numbers will help clients – so would a rating system for sites, so that a client can decide his budget and locations for campaigns. Clients will appreciate a transparent and objective system to help compare efficiencies with other medium.
Transit media: 15% of OOH revenue
One interesting nugget that emerged from the presentations was: transit media. It has become the fastest growing segment of OOH advertising and is believed to be outpacing the growth of traditional formats (billboards, street furniture). For example, Flipkart launched a campaign for its new mobile app specifically across major Indian airports.
As consumers are spending an increasing amount of time on travel, brands are trying to capture the attention of their localised target audience during this period.
The development of metros and modernisation of airports have also provided an impetus to this segment. And so, transit locations like buses, taxis and railways, account for more than 15% of the revenue.
When PrintWeek India spoke to a few OOH specialists, they said, "airport advertising is being preferred by advertisers as it gets regulated by airport authorities, ensuring visibility and also because it caters to the preferred target segment."
The other noticeable trends is the shift in spends. The telecom and automobiles saw a decrease while two-wheelers, real estate and jewellery increased the spend.
So Kalyan Jewellers and Malabar utilised OOH for their multi-city store launches. Likewise Hero Motocorp, Bajaj and Honda used a lot of OOH to launch their new vehicles.
A key factor, which speaker after speaker, stated at the OAC seminar was how growth was hampered due to the inability to measure the return on investment (ROI) on spends.
While different agencies have developed individual tools to measure visibility and ROI, OOH players use global currencies such as Route and Geomex, a universal currency to measure reach and ROI, which is widely accepted by all players.
This has become a critical need. The proof of the pudding rests in the fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deployed a Proof of Performance (POP) to audit the performance of its OOH election campaign in May 2014.
Perhaps therein lies a message for all us.
Achche Din for OOH?
The 11th outdoor advertising awards function, held in Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel, Powai, Mumbai, on 25 July saw Kinetic bag the top spot. The entries to the competition were judged in four jury groups in Delhi and Mumbai.
Kinetic India
bagged five golds and 16 metals in all, while Milestone Brandcom won eight metals, Madison OOH won seven metals, Posterscope won five metals, and Interspace Communications and Laqshya Media Group won three each.
Macromedia Digital Imaging won the Gold in the ‘Printer of the Year’ category, while Pacific Digital and Spectacular MMT won the Silver and Bronze metals, respectively.
(With inputs from Ramu Ramanathan)