Wednesday, March 19, 2014

OOH signs up for growth

Submitted by admin on Tue, 03/18/2014 - 11:00

No matter which party comes to power in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it is the outdoor advertising industry that stands to emerge winner. Vendors of the Out Of Home (OOH) industry are optimistic that the elections, coupled with other factors, will again provide a much-needed fillip to the industry, which has been growing at a steady pace for the last couple of years.

Compared to previous years, 2013 has been a somewhat better year for the sector. Here are some numbers to get things into perspective: The outdoor industry formed 6.2% of the total advertising spends in 2013, according to the Pitch-Madison Media Advertising Outlook (PMMAO), in fourth place behind TV, Print and Digital. This Year Next Year, a study by Group M, too says that 2013 saw the OOH industry grow by about 6%, a remarkable achievement, considering that the growth in 2012 was about 2%. Despite many brand managers shifting significant budgets to digital and mobile spends, 2014 is expected to be another strong year for the outdoor sector (PMMAO predicts it will grow by 8.2%, while Group M’s studies peg the growth rate at 8.8-9%). So, what are the factors driving this general sense of optimism?


We have already seen the aggressive push towards advertising adopted by the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Industry sources estimate that nearly Rs100 crore of the Congress’ ad budget has been lavished on outdoor advertising. It would not be wrong to assume that BJP will spend a similar amount too. The importance of this one event can hardly be overstressed. The outdoor sector generally starts picking up during the second half of the year, but with the elections in May, political spending on OOH advertising has been a welcome addition to a traditionally slow first half. We saw the same trend during the state assembly elections in 2013, which proved how vital OOH is for political parties.

Since most cities have banned posters, Outdoor remains the only viable option available for propaganda, along with radio as both are cost-effective and ensure reach. “All national parties such as BJP, Congress and NCP are geared for outdoor campaigns. Beside this, the outdoor industry will also get benefit due to its extensive reach in rural areas and Tier II and Tier III cities,” says Sanjeev Gupta, MD, Global Advertisers.

Analysts and industry experts also expect the general business sentiment to improve post the elections, which will further serve to loosen the advertising purse strings.

Though hoardings and their ilk are considered the driving force behind OOH, the last few years have seen a lot of development in new forms of outdoor communication. We are all familiar with the remarkable growth story of transit media (including street furniture and bus/radio cab advertising). The medium grew at 13.9% last year and has consistently outgrown the overall OOH advertising space over the last couple of years. The Pitch-Madison report forecasts it to grow at 10% this year too. But transit is not the only ‘other’ option that is growing. Says Haresh Nayak, Regional Director of Posterscope Asia-Pacific, “The OOH medium has evolved in malls and multiplexes, whether it is pure display, engagement, or events. 

We have also seen growth in niche ambient environments, for example, cinema has grown by over 200%.” Electronics major Philips is one of the brands that is a strong believer in the efficacy of ambient media. “The efficacy and proficiency of ambient media is very strong as it creates a differentiated platform for the brands,” says Amit Tiwari, Country Head (Media) for Philips. “A lot of consumption of outdoor media, these days, takes place in malls and multiplexes. Also, since most LFRs are present in these places, it creates a direct connotation to the point of sale.” Another emerging option is captive audience advertising, which is digital displays, the ones seen at malls and coffee houses. Though still nascent as compared to its cousins, transit and ambient media, this is another interesting space. For example, Rajan Mehta, Co-founder and CEO of LiveMedia, which boasts of clients like Big 92.7 FM, CavinKare, HDFC Bank, etc., claims his company, which specializes in captive audience advertising, has been growing at a rate of 20-25% YoY. So, there is definitely an interest being shown by advertisers in this medium. “In the West, digital OOH is already mainstream. As the technology improves, it will also become cheaper and, hence, more viable,” he says.

Says Bharat Dhuppar, Omkar Realtors & Developers, “Real estate is now opening up to alternative OOH media vehicles such as cinema theatres, airport branding and even in-flight advertising campaigns. It works better because of the simple reason that the audience is in a captive environment and has to pay attention to the communication. It is a definitive component today in any media plan that gets made for a successful campaign.”

Even the entertainment sector, which is among the largest spender on traditional OOH, seems to believe in BTL activities. For example, when asked how significant mall activations were as part of OOH strategy, Amit Nair, Business Head, Zee Khana Khazana said, “We have always been strong when it comes to BTL activities. We do a lot of road shows across cities as well as workshops within malls. They are a great tool for creating consumer connect and brand recall also increases through these activities.”

Studies on the growth of traditional OOH sector and the current blueeyed baby - transit media - are easily available. However, there are not many comprehensive studies available on other outdoor media platforms. With better data, interest in these platforms will continue to increase.


A major reason for the growth of transit media has been the rapid infrastructure development seen in the country and this will continue to boost the outdoor industry in the coming months. Ad spots at locations like the Metro in Mumbai and New Delhi and the new airport terminal at the Mumbai International Airport are highly sought after by advertisers. “Revenue growth will only happen through new infrastructure projects such as the Metro and new airports,” says Rajiv Saxena, MD of Blue Ocean Media. However, Sunder Hemrajani, MD of Times OOH cautions that though infrastructure development would be a growth driver, it needs to be looked at from both the demand and supply side. “New infrastructure projects improve the supply of good, high-quality media but one also has to consider the demand side of the equation. We need to provide innovative and complete solutions. There is need to show the advertiser the right value proposition,” he said.

Echoing this view, Sanjay Chitkara, Head (Marketing) of LG says, “Outdoor is an evolving medium – urbanization and new infrastructure such as shopping malls, offices, express highways, etc., have   created tremendous opportunity to innovate with the outdoor medium. Concentrated joint efforts by all the stakeholders will help leverage this opportunity in a more constructive manner.”


Digital OOH, or DOOH as it is referred to, is perhaps one of the most exciting new things to emerge in the OOH space. According to a recent study by PQ Media, the average global consumer was exposed to various DOOH media for 14 minutes per week in 2013, a 75% increase from eight minutes in 2007. The report names the US and China as the largest and second largest markets for DOOH in terms of revenues respectively. Other significant markets in terms of exposure and revenues are the UK, Canada and Australia. Interestingly enough, an earlier report by the same agency had stated that global DOOH revenues will expand at a 21.3% CAGR in the 2011-16 period.

The situation in India is not that rosy, though inroads are being made over the last few years. Though brands seem to have welcomed the concept, regulatory issues are proving a hindrance. A report from consulting firm PriceWaterhouse Coopers for the period 2013-2017 states, “Growth markets and the impact of digitization will drive the rise in global OOH advertising spends. There will be double-digit CAGR growth in two countries: India (11%) and Brazil (10%).”

“As with most technological advances, it isn’t what the technology enables you to do but what you do with it. Creativity is the game-changer that will make the difference between a bland communication and one that’s breakthrough,” comments Farrokh Madon, Chief Creative Officer of Y&R Advertising. Brands are obviously excited about the possibilities of digitization when it comes to OOH. “It (DOOH) will be crucial and cause a positive disruption. All the current rules will go out the window. The agility, responsiveness and the ability to track that it will bring is going to be phenomenal,” says Satinder Juneja, VP (Sales & Marketing) of NIIT Technologies.

Sudeep Narayan, Director (Marketing & PR) of Volvo Auto India, also calls digital OOH a “game enhancer”. “Digital signage can be compatible with other devices like smartphones, profile the audience and target ads accordingly. This implies both personalization and customization,” says Karan Bajwa, MD of Microsoft India. For now, we can take a look at some examples from around the world to see the kind of potential digital OOH holds.


Customer engagement is the new mantra for advertisers and the OOH space is no different. The problem, as Amitesh Rao, Director (Brand & Media) of MTS India puts it, is that you just get a fraction of a second to take in the ad. Brands want a way to break the clutter and many large outdoor agencies are increasingly working with brands to develop innovative and creative solutions. Says Rajneesh Bahl, CEO of Percept Out Of Home, “It is more about creative enhancement. Over the last few years, we have seen brands demanding creative ideas from outdoor agencies.”

With the outdoor industry needing to compete with new advertising mediums such as digital, mobile and social media, the industry needs fresh perspectives, says Chitkara. And this has been happening over the last few years. An even more interesting development is the way advertisers are utilizing technology to carry out innovative cross-platform promotions. For example, recently Mahindra Reva combined Twitter with the OOH medium in an integrated campaign. There a few other examples of brands experimenting with new technologies like RFID tags, QR codes, augmented reality, etc. With OOH advertising now having to compete with rapidly evolving and highly engaging platforms like digital and social, the integration of technology into OOH campaigns is bound to keep increasing.


There is a general perception that the digital medium has eaten into traditional OOH’s share and this is true to an extent. Lack of a measurement metric, among other issues, has hampered its growth in recent times. However, the emergence of new technologies and innovations, as well as growing interest in new mediums other than traditional hoardings, looks set to boost the OOH industry in the coming months. The challenge for OOH players is whether they are able to use this as a springboard to perform even better beyond 2014.

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