‘Onus is on us to self regulate’
OOH Clutter – The solution
Five years ago when Outdoors – Billboards specifically -- outlined the city landscape in a manner that that would shout with brand messaging. Unregulated markets saw large formats springing left right and centre. In fact, city planners rued that such a clutter spoilt the city silhouette. It wasn’t far back in time when there were cheeky brand wars (Jet Airways and the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines quickly comes to mind). Some advertisers used the clutter to their advantage as an attacking strategy, a few complained of clutter, a few brand custodians even stayed back from using the medium as they felt that the campaign with this sort of clutter would be detrimental to their brands. Be that as it may, as mentioned earlier, the clutter of large format media was really a regulatory issue. Better sense has prevailed and now thanks to that, most metro markets now are bereft of the clutter. As time goes by and newer media options are made available, the clutter may soon be a thing of the past.
Regulation of the industry
This brings into attention a few things to be put into context. These are:
1. The Outdoor industry is by far the oldest business to have existed in the country
2. A select set of outdoor companies had a monopoly in the markets where they owned media
3. Fragmented and unorganized business status
4. The top 12 markets contributed significantly towards the industry/ state revenue coffers
5. Indiscriminate mushrooming of media vehicles across clusters On account of a combination of some of the above factors, regulation has indeed remained a challenge. The onus is primarily on the media owners to self regulate. Clearly clairvoyance was never a virtue with them and they went about doling the media out in the most abrasive manner. A select few with some long term view chose to wait and watch. It is now up to the local administration to impose regulations and it is commendable that quite a few have done that. Also with a few media owners having access to insights from global players, they are working closely with the local authorities to offer utility based media. The only industry platform – the IOAA -- is doing some terrific work in bringing the authorities and the media owners to engage in purposeful dialogue. The writing is on the wall and we firmly believe that like every business, the OOH business is also in the evolutionary phase and more regulation will follow in the coming years.
Even today the OOH business in India is dominated with traditional large formats (billboards, building wraps) that account for 60% of media space. Brands still give more precedence to them for their launch or tactical objectives. “The medium is the message” rings true with this business so far. It is also true that people spend most of their waking hours outside their house in transit or networking with friends and relatives. In our opinion digital OOH (contributing to about 2% of 22+ UHYHQUHV) FDPH LQ WR fiOO WKH VSDFH ZKHUH EUDQGV sought out a captive audience. They wished to engage and interact with their TG and there was a belief that the digital format could deliver that stickiness. So the digital OOH explored channels such as residential complexes (near the lift), commercial complexes, recreational places like gymnasiums, coffee chains (stand alone and in malls). Somehow it doesn’t have seemed to have clicked in a manner it was imagined. The belief in “Size does matter” has led a few media RZQHUV WR SUW US /(D VFUHHQV DW PDMRU WUDIfiF MUQFWLRQV in many cities. Advertising in on the rise and its success or the lack of it will depend on how it can match up with the traditional siblings in creating more impact for %UDQGV. ,W PDY EH D WULflH UQIDLU WR ZULWH LWV RELWUDUY YHW!
Measuring the medium
One of the most profound problems for the OOH business in India is the lack of a measurement tool. 7KH JR-ZLWK-WKH-JUW SKLORVRSKY MUVW GRHVQ’W flY ZLWK advertisers anymore. A month long campaign even across the top 3-4 markets calls for a substantial spends and brand managers are looking for accountability and ROI deliverance. As key players it is in our best interests to bring method to the madness and develop a currency that is acceptable to the agency and clients alike. There is no gainsaying that OOH can be measured -Notwithstanding the fact that OOH is extremely fragmented and the media owners (mostly old timers) have an unfathomable fear about getting their media mapped. IOAA has already put in place a mechanism mapping markets (basis media formats/ clusters/pricing) and once the results are out, it will pave the way forward for the balance markets with substantial OOH spends. Until such time, Most brands will keep putting their monies with Broadcast and Print because of the ROI factor.
Pawan Bansal COO, Jagran Engage