‘There should be policies on agency payment’
OOH Clutter – The solution
According to me, OOH looks cluttered because the authorities give permissions for more and more sites. The objective of the particular city Corporation should be clear. Is the Corporation looking at it as a revenue source to run the city? Obviously the revenue generated by OOH is not at all sufficient to run the city. So then why are they looking at miniscule revenue and not the aesthetics? And who will take a call on this -- the media owner or the Authorities? If Authorities are giving permissions and there is no end to it, then clutter is going to happen. There is no harm in having big sites but there have to be standardized sizes. In India; we have rules but we lack in execution. The biggest problem with this medium is that very few people understand the medium. In our country, the OOH business has grown as a family business, not like a professional business. Therefore the industry needs to set norms to give it a more professional outlook.
Regulation of the industry
I think the industry can be regulated but it depends on the will-power of the authorities. As a media owner, I am here to grow but how much will I be allowed to grow is in the Authority’s hands. If the Corporation is looking at aesthetics then they have to control the number of sites.
Digital OOH will work in India. It has to take off because we follow the West blindly for good and bad reasons. Digital OOH is here to stay but why it hasn’t taken off in a big way is because the client is willing to pay a particular amount, not more than that. After investing in crores, the client is still buying the digital outdoor like he buys a normal outdoor. If you want digital OOH to happen then there is a need to educate the brands also on the buying part as they treat it like TV spot. Apart from this, there is not a single vendor across India who sells the digital medium in volumes -- for instance, 75 locations across 6 metro cities. If you want digital OOH to grow at that level, you need to sell like that. That is, if one can go with the plan and guarantee that crores of urban India is going to see and back it up with research then the client will look at it differently. Currently, we are talking of one-offs, which is one LED at a mall or some market. To make an impact through digital OOH, we need volumes.
Credit issues – The solution
To be honest why can’t we have the payment within 45 day or 60 day and if payment doesn’t come from the agency or client, we can blacklist them through a credit control regulatory authority. Credit is a big issue, not a small problem and we can discuss this for many more years. Yes, the brand uses for us unlimited credit, they make sure press and print are paid and outdoor comes last. I think this is where we have to push IOAA to have standard policies. It is fair to negotiate on the price and pay on the 60th day but there should be policies applied when the agency doesn’t pay. The problem is that after that they will go to another agency and take the campaign forward. There are clients who use agencies one after the other.
Measuring the medium
OOH needs to be measured, but what measurement are you talking about? If a brand spends hundred of crores on IPL then is there any measurement for that? IPL is a 45 daybonanza, what happens to the brand during the rest of the days of the year? Today people hardly remember the first page of any national daily newspaper -- the measurement for that is the number of copies printed. OOH medium is here to stay but the face of the medium has changed. We should look at the big brands who utilize this medium. For example Samsung is a real good example of using OOH media aggressively. Let’s ask the Samsung brand manager what measurement he uses. They believe in OOH and everybody has seen the results. It is a brand which was a non-starter in mobile industries but today it is a number one brand. The measurement is the fact that they are seen everywhere, that is why everybody is buying the product. Lots of brands are interested in the outdoor medium but the key factor is how a brand sustains its presence -- that is where OOH comes in because it is a very cheap medium as compared to other measureable mediums. Yes we do need measurements, but measurement has to come with the price. Today brands are cutting ad spends on the medium but they want the world from OOH. Outdoor is a medium that works and is here to stay.
Jimmy K Subawalla Director Selvel Media Services