Indian Outdoor Advertising June 12, 2006Posted by rajAT in advertising, india, marketing, media, mobile.
This weekend I attended Outdoor Advertising Convention in Mumbai. The conference was a great learning experience. I am a technologist, the insights that I got in the conference about the evolving outdoor advertising industry in the country was worth the time and the money.
The first question that will come to everybody’s mind is what I was doing at an advertising conference and too a specific one – Outdoor. Let us take them one by one? Why an advertising conference? The only sustainable business model on internet is selling advertisements. So why not learn a bit more about it from the pundits itself. Oh yeah, I know they all are traditional model and will not work on the new media but it is important to know the roots. And why outdoor ? The only niche in the ad industry which has remained untouched by new media is the OOH (Out of Home) media. Outdoor ad spend has only increased over the years, but print and TV are fighting a dull and losing war with the internet.
Conference started on a high note as Rahul Welde, GM, Media Services, HLL tried to reinforce the point that Indian outdoor could soon become a $1 billion industry. His growth strategy was two fold – Value and Volumes, only latter was high on his agenda. More volumes will come as new roads are being laid in the whole country, big malls are coming everywhere. So he stressed there is a need to come up with a strategy to tap these new opportunities. How more value will be delivered from the existing urban billboards or street furniture, his answer was not very conclusive. There is so much litter these days in the urban outdoor space. The only strategy that is used to attract people attention towards a billboard is putting up a beautiful model. Interestingly, throughout out his presentation he kept on stressing that outdoor is passive and static. During the question answer round I asked him that why cannot we use barcodes to make outdoor interactive. He said he cannot comment on barcodes but bluecasting might work.
There were lots of foreign companies (Clear Channel, News Outdoor Group, Kinetic, Aconda SA, Out of Home Media SA, Posterscope) that are trying to get a pie of Indian Outdoor advertisement market. In their presentation they tried to answer why they are here – Because India is growing, Because Indian GDP is yada yada. Clear Channel the world leader in Outdoor media is in India from last 8 years and has not been able to make a great impact till now. The reasons are unknown but it seems they are not able to understand the Indian market or come in terms with it. But the good point is that spirits are still very high and they still see a good future in India ahead.
Eric Newman, Global CEO of Kinetic showcased some of new things that will be coming in digital billboards. The thrust in digital will come because the product companies want to change their messages daily. The days of 6 months or 3 months campaign are out. These days the campaigns run in weeks. This kind of flexibility and speed is possible only with digital billboards. But the next big thing will be interactive. How that will be achieved he was totally silent on that? I don’t know that these biggies were not having clues or they were silent deliberately.
Number 1 problem that is holding the growth of outdoor media is – there is no measure. There is no concrete way to know that a particular campaign was seen by so many people hence it becomes difficult to justify huge marketing spend on outdoor. If some kind of measure can be associated with outdoor there is a great chance of double digit growth.
Undoubtedly, the biggest thing that is missing in outdoor experience is interactivity. Mobile phones can be used to fill that void. It will not be long when all these giants will wake up and figure that out. Sometime back even TV was considered passive and static. Now sms (e.g. Indian Idol) has changed the way people experience TV. So guys wake up before it is too late.