‘Need more research investments from the industry’
Noomi Mehta, Chairman & Managing Director, Selvel One Group & Chairman - IOAA
OOH Clutter – The solution
Clutter can only be avoided if the rules and regulations of the local authorities are strictly followed by the industry people. The enforcement by the authorities should be even-handed and equal. If it is not equally implemented, people will always try to find a way to break the rules in order to find an equal platform. This is the only way a solution for OOH clutter could be found.
Regulation of the industry
OOH has to be regulated in order to survive and surely will be because it is almost at the tipping point in India. In my opinion self-regulation is the best way to approach this problem and the joint initiative of all the media owners from this outdoor industry will help the market get regulated. In the absence of self-regulation Government regulation is inevitable. This will be much more painful. Delhi is a great example of the consequences of refusal to follow norms and regulations. Outdoor advertising was banned in 1997 for several years and has only recently staged a comeback in a highly regulated form. In the interval OOH worth several hundred crores of rupees per annum was destroyed. In the near future if reasonable norms and principles are not followed, other towns and cities would face the same fate.
Digital OOH has already been introduced in India. At present it is at a very nascent stage and historically any new technology at least takes a few years to incubate in any new market. In India digital printing took 3 to 4 years to explode. In Digital the growth will be seen not before 3-5 years down the line. Any new technology though is not something which can be super imposed by the media owners. At the initial stage media owners may introduce it to the outdoor advertising market but the demand from the clients will ultimately decide its fate in India. There are different forms of Digital Outdoor: LCD screens which are normally found indoors, LED screens which are used outdoors and come in giant sizes and are extremely expensive, smart phone digital ads with digital coupons and download options with NFC capabilities/or bar code capacities etc. Only a few of these will be successful and already the landscape of LCD screens has been littered with failures. LED screens are expensive and the price of sites has to be reasonably high for clients to agree to share time and space by exploiting this new technology. It is perhaps the right time to invest in digital formats though the quantum of investment is high considering the Indian OOH space at present because it is internationally at its lowest ever and is not expected to reduce much further. Price is the main reason why it will take time to get accepted by the numerous small companies operating in the Indian market. The maximum market share we could expect Digital OOH to grab would be around 5-10% of the total OOH market, starting in the next 3-5 years.
Credit issues – The solution
IOAA is trying to control the credit issues in a major way and each of the members in the body should realise the gravity of this issue and ensure their full backing. IOAA is the ideal platform for the industry to take a stance. Our conversations with the AAAI leave us hopeful of finding and Association to Association solution. Once our Memorandum of Understanding is finalised and signed we are hopeful things will fall into place.
Measuring the medium
It can surely be measured as is the norm in more developed markets. In India the problem is the way it is approached. All the media owners as a body have to be more professional and back the project with substantial financial resources. I believe that good Market Research will help us get at least another 2% of the total Advertising Pie. That would mean increasing the OOH share by another 700 crore rupees! In the future this figure would keep increasing. I am astonished that we would rather spend crores of Rupees in underhand tactics than invest a few lakhs of Rupees each for a solid study! I believe that a steady investment of just Rs 5 crore per annum by the entire industry will lift us to unseen heights in just a few years. If we sit tight refusing to look ahead preferring to suffer from myopia our share of voice will keep deteriorating until we are too weak to fight and will simply be sitting ducks for hunters hungry for a slice of the Indian market, whether Indian or foreign.