‘Let’s have a code of conduct for the industry’
Sunder Hemrajani Managing Director Times OOH
OOH Clutter – The solution
I think there are solutions, but I think the solutions require a lot of self discipline by the industry. It is the industry itself which causes the clutter. You can’t blame anyone else. There is a need for some self-governance and self-discipline. It is no use just blaming the Municipal Corporation; we must look within ourselves. We should have a code of conduct and members from various industry bodies should sign on the code of conduct. I think nothing will be better than that. Media owners cause the clutter, some of them suffer, some RI WKHP DUH RSSRUWUQLVWLF DQG PDNH UHYHQUH DQG SURfiW through that clutter, but in the end the whole industry suffers. There is another dimension to this clutter. There is a pre melt-down period and post melt-down period. In post melt-down period during 2008-09 and after, the PDUNHWV KDYH JRW FRPSOHWHOy UHGHfiQHG. (DUOLHU LW ZDV a sellers’ market which suddenly became a buyers’ market. The prices went down and at large numbers of locations, the prices still haven’t gone back to the original level, it is a demand and supply issue. If you keep creating more sites, you will not necessarily get more revenue. The media owners have to focus on the demand side of the business. If you go ahead in the curves in terms of supply, you will land up in problem and this is what has happened to the industry. Much of the industry has fallen on the commodity track. I believe less is more even for billboards. If we have aesthetically built billboards at the right location then I think the whole industry will benefit. The overall revenue and industry will go up. But this needs a mindset change.
Regulating the industry
Some small steps have been taken at various places like Mumbai, where they have guidelines. The problem is the execution. I personally feel it is not regulated because things are on ground. I find that the unscrupulous media owners always find a way of beating the system. I must confess that regulation helps, but still cannot solve the problem. It is media owners who can solve the problem.
Digital OOH on the roads is a difficult one because the municipality will not allow moving images as it might disrupt the traffic. But I am sure there are best practices in the world to deal with that. But today even a poster is not allowed which becomes a bit of a problem. If you just put it up as a poster, then media owners have to look at the ROI because digital requires investment. Fundamentally there has to some guidelines. I think we need to study the digital OOH abroad and see what is good for our country and situation.
Credit issues - Solution
We have an advantage because we have assets which are exclusive so we can be very tight. But it is entirely up to the media owners. The industry body can set up some norms, like what the IOAA has done. But who will implement those norms? Only the media owners and agencies. But agencies are still not a part of IOAA. So we are talking to the Advertising Association of India and trying to arrive at norms because basically it is the agencies and media owners who can decide on certain norms and if both agree to follow it, it will solve the issue.
Measuring the medium
There are a lot of efforts happening from the industry’s side but it is taking a bit of time. We on our own have taken a few initiatives that we will be able to share soon. Now the technologies are available which we need to deploy, test them out and then prepare some prototypes and make sure we experiment with them. We are in the midst of those experiments. We will also be in a position to measure. Yes it is more difficult to do it on the streets, but it is possible. We will surely be able to do it on airports and tolls. But for this, we need some investments and commitment from the industry.