‘Biggest challenge is quantifying the ROI’
Ashish Gupta Director - Channel Marketing Blackberry India
Measuring the medium
All organisations are driving towards very strong ROI based marketing based campaigns, historically as well as with time. I think digital is obviously catching up in a big way which is quantifiable and targets a particular segment, so you will see that it becomes tougher on OOH in general because of the fact that you can’t measure it. Hence it will become difficult to quantify the huge numbers of dollars spent on OOH.
It is impossible for any marketing team to sit and identify 350 sites across the country going live. You can do it but it is not a sustainable model and that is what we do today. If OOH needs to become a credible source or a stronger source of media for advertising then measurability needs to be defined. Another point is that there is a merit to go digital I don’t know the challenge behind it but I would be surprised to see why OOH doesn’t go digital in India, the same way it does across the world, especially at more controlled areas or premium high streets etc. The moment you digitalise it, it is easy access to manage the media, change the creative and also monitor whether it is working or not. So it will address a lot of issues.
Percentage of advertising spend on Outdoor medium
The use of outdoor media really depends on the objective of the campaign, if the objective is to create a lot of on-ground awareness of the campaign and to supplement the overall campaign, then the use of outdoor media becomes fairly interesting. The spend could vary, from 10-20 percentage of overall budget, depending upon the kind of activation that is required for a campaign or product.
The biggest challenge in OOH, which will always exist, is quantifying the ROI. There is a number that a print publication or TV use or there is a number which can be tracked digitally. Now, one could discuss the veracity of that number. But that is a different discussion, at least I am putting x number of dollars and I can check how many consumers I am reaching out to and what is the segment of the profile of consumers I am reaching. So this is something which is quantifiable in every other medium. I think OOH is the only media which is very difficult to quantify. The closest we have been able to quantify is at airport because of footfall or traffic at airport which is something estimated by the airport authority.
The other thing is that in any other medium it is very easy to identify when the campaign broke so you know say that a TVC broke at 7.30 on Thursday or a print campaign broke on Thursday morning. But in OOH it is practically impossible to find out when the campaign actually broke because it is a challenging media, not as simple as putting up a reel and running it. If technically you are running 250 sites across the country, I think it is very difficult to set up 250 sites on one day. So what happens if you are running a 30 day campaign? You will never have 30 days of media even in the same city. Even in Delhi getting all sites ready in one day is a task, so I think execution in terms of when the media actually become active is a challenge. It is easy to coordinate other mediums with each other, but it is difficult to coordinate with OOH. You will exit the TV campaign in 4 weeks but you will have an overlap of 5-10 days on OOH. There might be a phase of 10 days when you have no TVC but have the OOH running then though you might not get the same impact. The second would be the sheer execution.
The third reason would be the upkeep and maintenance. It is difficult to keep track of what is happening -- like whether the lights are working or not. Even in the most confined medium like airport, it is difficult to maintain. The biggest factor is how you actually monitor the efficacy of the media. In my mind if you look at these three factors broadly, then it will become easier for the marketer to make a decision constructively on leveraging OOH.
Preferred outdoor format
Difficult to say because we don’t choose one format over the other without a reason. So the reason has to be about what that particular format achieves for you. For instance, the media at airport becomes a preferred format and there again, the media which is inside the airport is preferred compared to the media available outside the airport. But usually for a brand of our stature, we definitely go for large media format property. The media needs to break the clutter. It needs to address enough consumers to resonate with the campaign. Without a bare minimum threshold, OOH doesn’t make sense.
Focus on Digital OOH
It fairly depends on the campaign. There are two ways of using OOH -- either you are running a broad level campaign and not targeting a wider reach of audience. In that case, you would use 2 or 3 media vehicles which could be TV, print and OOH. Alternatively, if you are doing very specific location centric then OOH becomes a very strong contender. I don’t think marketers have used the latter approach very well; most of the marketers use the former approach where they do a mass campaign and then they use OOH to supplement it. But I think there is a lot of merit especially in Tier II and III cities in leveraging OOH very well. My observation is that the telecom industry uses the OOH medium very well. The telecom is very circle centric and they use OOH very effectively for leveraging that state or audience.
Creative agencies –Their focus or the lack of it on OOH & their creativity
I don’t know if it is the creative agency’s challenge or the brand’s guidelines that matter. All brands work with a consistent approach across mediums. We, the whole community of marketers, tend to take the same campaign across TVC, print and OOH. To my mind that is probably not the best way of doing it because OOH media doesn’t give you the same leverage in terms of exposure. For instance, a print ad will be exposed for may be 8 seconds, TVC for 20 seconds or OOH may be for 3 seconds. If brands adapt the creative or gives the agency the right or flexibility or freedom to change the creative, then I think they can use it very well.
Credit issues faced by media owners
In the case of brands which are credible, there are standard payment terms which are clearly laid out on any contract that they sign up. If it is a one-off case, then it might be different. I haven’t come across this problem.