‘IF GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, NETFLIX & AMAZON BET BIG ON OOH, IT’S BECAUSE IT WORKS’
MARC-ANTOINE DE ROYS GLOBAL CEO, KINETIC WORLDWIDE
On his maiden visit to India, Marc-Antoine de Roys, Global CEO, Kinetic Worldwide reveals his ambitious plan for the country, which is to make Kinetic’s Indian business as big as China, their largest market. He also talks about the efforts that the agency is taking to make the Out-of-Home medium more accountable
The Out-of-Home (OOH) industry, possibly the oldest medium of advertising, is perhaps also the most resilient. It is one medium that has managed to stand the test of time and continue growing, despite the changes in the overall advertising ecosystem. And why not? Consider this: a person today spends a considerable amount of time in daily commute, either on the road, the subway or on the bus. In this scenario OOH is one medium that has the potential to instantly grab eyeballs, build an immediate connect with consumers and make a huge impact. Throw in some innovations, add a digital touch, and the oldest medium can easily rival any of the new-age advertising mediums.
The advent of Digital OOH has seen more and more marketers loosen their purse strings and explore the endless possibilities that this medium can offer. It is this potential that Marc-Antoine de Roys, Global CEO, Kinetic Worldwide, WPP’s out-of-home media planning and buying agency, wants both advertisers as well as the OOH industry to wake up to.
“I want to make OOH more famous, and this is pretty much the ambition of a lot of players in the industry today,” said De Roys, on his recent trip to India. Despite being a dynamic medium with widespread reach, OOH has not been able to grow as fast as some of the other mediums like TV and Digital. One of the primary reasons for this is the lack of accountability and measurability, which has made marketers wary of putting in big money. Given this scenario, how does one make the medium more appealing to marketers?
For De Roys, the solution is greater integration between all the concerned stakeholders; be it media owners, agencies or even competition. “Working together would help all of us work better. We could coordinate a number of actions which would allow us, as an industry, to make the medium famous,” he adds.
POSITIONING OF THE OOH INDUSTRY TODAY
The year 2017 was a difficult one, not just for Indian advertising, but globally too, and it wasn’t very different for Kinetic. De
Roys reveals that the agency saw flat growth for the first time in
years, owing to reasons ranging from the loss of a few clients to advertisers curbing overall OOH spend. However, the year 2018, he said, has started on a positive note, and he sees an upward trend in most markets where the agency operates.
That said, from an Indian perspective, the past year has been good for Kinetic India. It is currently handling blue-chip names that include the likes of Google, Netflix and Facebook - companies that bet big on OOH and also are among the biggest spenders for the medium in the country. What has also added to the cheer is the agency’s big-ticket account wins in the past few months, which include Star India, Honda Cars India, Maruti Suzuki and Exide. Kinetic India’s billings were close to the tune of Rs 500 crore last year, a 10% jump over the previous year.
Going forward, Suresh Balakrishna, CEO, South Asia and Middle East, Kinetic Worldwide says that he is optimistic about the year ahead and is confident of achieving the set targets. “2018 has started off well for us. The first quarter numbers are looking strong. We have predicted aggressive growth rate projections in India for 2018, because we anticipate it to be a much better year than 2017. And we are very much on track so far,” he says.
DIGITAL OOH: THE GAME-CHANGER
The solid performance in the past few months can also be attributed to the launch of the agency’s proprietary tool, Aureus last year. Given the fact that the OOH medium in India is cluttered and highly fragmented with measurability being a major concern for advertisers, the tool is designed to work with all partners in the OOH media value chain, including business associates, agency buyers and planners, and advertisers, with the aim of delivering smarter OOH Media planning for every campaign. So far, Aureus has proved to be a game-changer for the agency as it guarantees seamless planning. Remarks Balakrishna, “Aureus has been a game-changer for us ever since its launch. The credit for many of our recent account wins; be it Star India, Maruti Suzuki or Honda, goes to the tool. Clients have been pleasantly surprised at the fact that even OOH can be planned in a reasonably sophisticated way.”
While India is still operating on Aureus 1, the global markets have upgraded to the second version of the tool. As per Balakrishna, if things fall in place, Kinetic will be launching Aureus 2 in India by the end of this year.
Globally, OOH is the only traditional medium that has seen consistent growth and this growth can be ascribed to marrying Digital with OOH. The increased shift to Digital signage and innovations has resulted in significant expansion in OOH, be it in Europe, US and even Asia. However, where does India figure in the global scheme of things? According to De Roys, while India does not figure in the top five markets for the agency currently, the growth opportunity is immense. “Currently, India is performing in line with the rest of the markets. The potential here is massive when you compare it to several other
markets. Today, the Indian market’s size almost equals the size of the Thailand market. However, in my mind, there is no reason why India cannot become the size of the China market, which brings in the maximum business for us. This means we need to grow the market about tenfold here. However, I hope it happens quickly,” he adds.
THE FUTURE: MOBILE + OOH
With the rapid growth of location-based marketing communication on the back of increased smartphone penetration, marketers now have a multitude of options to target consumers. This has led to traditional mediums, such as Television, Print and Radio, jumping on to the Digital bandwagon in one format or the other. Experts predict that the convergence of mobile and OOH will be the next big thing for the OOH industry. This is not simply in terms of contextual targeting, but also in terms of increased use of data, as well as social amplifications.
It is this opportunity that De Roys believes will drive the next phase of growth for the industry, as well as for Kinetic. Elaborating on this he says, “There is so much we can do with the mobile. The power of OOH, when enhanced by mobile, is incredible. It may not be exponential, but it is incredible. It can help in amplifying campaigns through social media or have consumer interactions with an ad through QR codes.”
Moreover, mobile can also help drive better measurability for the industry in the future, which is one of the biggest challenges that the industry is facing today. Comments De Roys, “Measurability is a problem everywhere and not just in India. However, some markets like the UK have put in place some industry data which allows us to position the OOH medium better, and more and more players are working on addressing the issue.” He continues, “Mobile, again is the solution for us today. Measurement is difficult in the OOH ecosystem because of the spread of the market. Owing to the huge number of assets in the industry, it is almost impossible to control and monitor. You could send people physically on the ground to take pictures, but even then you can never be 100% sure about the accuracy. With different mobile technologies coming in, however, we will be able to track and monitor everything much more efficiently and not only report on delivery, but also add other relevant information like traffic counts and get contextual information.”
Currently, Kinetic India’s market share is between 18-20%. It will be interesting to see how the agency gains more mileage on the back of its proprietary tools, increased Digital and data usage and innovations; and how it manages to capture the attention of the traveller on the go.