‘Let’s have a process in place’

Kaushik Chakra­vorty COO Vi­vaki Spe­cial­ist Ser­vices

Outdoor Asia - - Agency Take -

Mea­sur­ing the medium

When you talk of ROI, it de­pends on the ob­jec­tive of spend­ing. For in­stance, if there is a new store opened, then the ob­jec­tive is to have foot­falls so you can mea­sure that. The an­swer is yes and no. Yes, be­cause you know the foot­fall as it is hap­pen­ing, but to in­de­pen­dently say that the foot­fall hap­pened be­cause of OOH medium or any other medium for that mat­ter is a very dif­fi­cult propo­si­tion be­cause, on one hand we are say­ing we want to have syn­ergy with me­dia and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, which means I will use what­ever means and mes­sage to in­flu­ence my con­sumer to walk into the store in­clud­ing TV, print, OOH etc. Now how will you break it up and say that of the con­sumers who walked into the store, 10 came be­cause of the mes­sage from Press or 12 came be­cause of TV? You can do en­gages and re­call re­search, I have full re­spect for ev­ery re­search that hap­pens and method­olo­gies that are used. But my sub­mis­sion is that, you can’t ap­proach some­thing with a holis­tic view and then try­ing seg­re­gat­ing it and break­ing it up into com­part­ments of medi­ums. OOH as a medium can be mea­sured to a cer­tain ex­tent but what you are mea­sur­ing is the ques­tion. An­other point is that while over­all mea­sure­ment and seg­re­gat­ing by medium is pos­si­ble, it is dif­fi­cult to say whether it would of­fer some more in­sights. So mea­sure­ment is pos­si­ble, but it is not as ro­bust as other medi­ums be­cause of the for­mat of the medium. But over­all it is a very high im­pact medium; it is the only medium where you have a con­ver­gence of cre­ativ­ity, in­no­va­tion, im­pact and medium. If it is done prop­erly, this medium has very high re­call value. We can put a spe­cific num­ber to it but at that point of time, we will have to do away with all other medi­ums.

Reach­ing in­ter­na­tional stan­dards

It is very easy to run down things which are hap­pen­ing and say that things should be much bet­ter. Crit­i­ciz­ing is the eas­i­est thing to do. Hav­ing said that, I agree that the medium needs mas­sive amount of im­prove­ment. But it is dif­fi­cult to an­swer when. Hav­ing been in the busi­ness for so long, I can say that the im­prove­ments that have hap­pened over a pe­riod of time are as­tound­ing. We have the same tech­nol­ogy which is avail­able abroad, should one want to use it here. As far as cre­ativ­ity is con­cerned, the In­dian cre­ativ­ity fra­ter­nity has some as­tound­ing peo­ple do­ing beau­ti­ful work. But we get a lit­tle stuck on the aes­thet­ics of the medium. The aes­thet­ics of the medium de­pends on the abil­ity of the me­dia owner to in­vest in aes­thet­i­cally de­signed or high tech­nol­ogy en­abled medi­ums. Ac­cord­ing to the me­dia owner’s per­spec­tive, he should get a re­turn on in­vest­ment and the sta­bil­ity of the in­vest­ment. There is a dan­ger to me­dia own­ers from dif­fer­ent au­thor­i­ties which is why they are more cau­tious about mak­ing in­vest­ments. There are places like air­ports; where the me­dia own­ers have as­sur­ance re­gard­ing the safety of the prop­erty. But it is not so in other places. So it be­comes a chicken and egg sit­u­a­tion. I think all of us need to wake up and smell the cof­fee oth­er­wise for the rest of our life we will still be a Rs 18 hun­dred crore in­dus­try! If you look abroad and at the de­vel­oped coun­tries’ out­door mar­kets, there is a level play­ing field and there are set rules and reg­u­la­tion. To­day we don’t give the as­sur­ance to the me­dia own­ers on them get­ting their in­vest­ment back. Again, it spi­rals into a to­tal cy­cle of ap­pre­hen­sions and dis­con­tent­ment be­cause we don’t have a medium that is so savvy that the client wants to use it. Here no one wants to take the risk as a client, agency or me­dia owner, so we al­ways keep on cre­at­ing dis­con­tent­ment amongst our­selves. In other mar­kets, there is much more co­he­sive­ness and there are lesser num­ber of play­ers who have larger in­ven­to­ries and big­ger means of in­vest­ment. In In­dia we keep on re-in­vent­ing our­selves ev­ery one hour.

Dig­i­tal OOH

In­dian dig­i­tal out­door or dig­i­tal out­door as a medium needed to be there yes­ter­day, for­get about to­day and to­mor­row. If we re­ally have dig­i­tal out­door en­vi­ron­ment in the coun­try, this medium can give re­turns to ad­ver­tis­ing spends in much bet­ter ways than right now, through the right in­ter­ven­tion. The abil­ity of the advertiser to milk that to make much more im­pact is but ob­vi­ous. But the ge­n­e­sis of the whole thing is sta­bil­ity of de­ci­sions, so we need to get to­gether and stick by it. Only then can the static OOH or dy­namic out­door and ev­ery­thing else will fall in place. Dig­i­tal out­door has very high po­ten­tial of be­com­ing the next

very high im­pact medium but at the end of it, it can only be­come the medium when you nur­ture it and al­low it to grow with rules and reg­u­la­tions in place which are more friendly, stan­dard­ized and sta­ble.

Credit is­sues- The So­lu­tion

By and large I tend to be­lieve that one of the rea­sons why me­dia own­ers face credit is­sues is the hap­haz­ard man­ner in which var­i­ous stake hold­ers of the busi­ness op­er­ate. To me, when­ever you have some­thing that is not reg­u­lated or un­or­ga­nized, the onus is on you to be­come or­ga­nized so there needs to be a stan­dard­ized check list which no one will be able to over-write un­til there are com­pelling rea­sons and then put the process in place. To­day the trou­ble in this busi­ness is that it is peo­ple spe­cific and not process spe­cific. My ques­tion is: why we can’t have a check­list. I think we col­lec­tively are re­spon­si­ble for it. If you ask the client, they will also have a host of com­plaints to talk about. We have started to ac­cept the least pos­si­ble method of ob­struc­tions. Out­door As­so­ci­a­tion should en­force cer­tain rules and reg­u­la­tions which will man­date that a me­dia owner has to do, say, ten num­ber of things and agen­cies say, five things, the client, an­other ten. Un­til we have a process in place and con­sciously de­cide that no one will be al­lowed to over-write the process or short cir­cuit the process, the in­dus­try will al­ways have prob­lems. Rather than shout­ing, me­dia own­ers should look closely at what is hap­pen­ing. In the last two years, we have put very strin­gent pro­cesses in place for our­selves, not only be­cause it is manda­tory but also be­cause it has made our lives eas­ier. It is very easy to point fin­gers say­ing that the client or the agency is not pay­ing, but you have to un­der­stand that one me­dia owner is a sub­set of 50 me­dia own­ers which in turn ham­pers ev­ery­thing. If 49 are com­pli­ant and one is not, that is a prob­lem. So the other 49 need to tell the de­fault­ing one that he needs to get com­pli­ant too.

Chal­lenges in OOH

The big­gest chal­lenge we have is set­ting up a process and be­ing com­pli­ant to the process. This is the big­gest is­sue which en­com­passes ev­ery other is­sue which plagues the whole in­dus­try. The only process we seem to have is that we don’t have any process for any­thing. All other prob­lems are sub-sec­tions of this prob­lem. The pro­cesses that we have are again done in com­part­ments so the me­dia own­ing fra­ter­nity has its own process, the agency fra­ter­nity has its own process, the client has its own process, and the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has its own process. There should be a core com­mit­tee which has equal rep­re­sen­ta­tions from all stake hold­ers, cre­ate a process and take it to the peo­ple. But we refuse to look at it from a big­ger point of view. Each one of us wants to hold on to what we think is right. Ev­ery­one’s in­ten­tions are right, but the trou­ble with the in­ten­tion is that they are good on the in­di­vid­ual level. Why can’t all good in­ten­tions get to­gether and cre­ate one process which makes sense?

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