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Perspective | How effective are innovations in the OOH medium..?


Way back when advertising industry came into existence, Out Of Home (OOH) was one of the priority mediums for the marketers concerning the advantage of catering to masses. There was a phase when OOH took a back seat but from the last few years, OOH has kind of witnessed quite a few innovations. The OOH industry is introducing new digital technologies and convergence, new lighting and materials, more innovative business practices, and a new audience ratings system.

But the point that caught our attention was the fact that whether spending money on such an innovation on OOH platform does really work for the marketers and brands. OOH reaches consumers no matter what their media consumption habits are and it goes where most other media can’t go. As it has been observed that today lot of people spend a substantial amount of time in commuting in larger metros, hence the question arises whether people really pay attention towards the innovative route that the brands take or are taking on the outdoor platforms.

To get a deeper understanding of the above mentioned thought, we at Adgully caught up with industry stalwarts like Sanjeev Gupta, MD, Global Advertisers; Haresh Nayak, MD, Posterscope; Bedraj Tripathy, Godrej Interio and Pravin Kulkarni, General Manager, Marketing, Parle. They shared their views on how brands have started using OOH medium effectively and how has it impacted their business growth.

As it is quite visible that there are a lot of innovations in OOH space, Gupta said, “I agree that innovation is becoming the mainstay of an increasing number of OOH campaigns in the country and I believe that this trajectory will continue in future as well. However, it is important that the innovation serves the interests of the client by serving the brand positioning in a simple, effective and impact-full manner.”

Tripathy said, “Innovations certainly catch your eye more than normal OOH presence. However, innovations for the sake of innovations do not necessarily help achieve objectives. In my view, innovations in OOH can grab your eyeballs, but smart user led communications, will work for both innovative and plain vanilla OOH execution.”

Nayak agreeing to the fact said, “Yes, the brands have started using the medium quite effectively. Also going forward there will a lot more that consumers will get to see. We cannot ignore the insight given by Out Of Home Consumer Survey (OCS), approximately 45 percent of the consumers kind of ignore OOH advertisements if they are not engaging and innovative. The whole focus and idea should be to engage consumers and being innovative.”

Kulkarni said, “We use Out of Home as and when required. We have taken different branding and different monetary formats plus we are also looking at different stations and we have also taken different hoardings for different campaigns.”

Well innovation and engagement are one of the key areas for the brands but what is important today every player what value do they get on the table, “I assume that the 'it' in the question refers to 'creativity'. In this age when India is making a fresh pitch for FDI and several sectors like real estate, apparel and jewelry are struggling with plummeting sales and a protracted liquidity crunch, bill settlement schedules, budgets and campaign durations are all going for a toss.”

Adding further Gupta said, “Creativity not only in the 'creative department' but also in designing easier bill payment schedules, barter deals, and allowing hoardings and other outdoor properties for shorter durations extends creativity to pricing, billing, campaign management. While we think of out-of-box ideas to deliver the client's brief to the markey, this spirit of accommodation is appreciated by clients because it often gives them solutions that work for them at terms that are more acceptable to them than those being offered by other outdoor advertising companies in the market.”

On asking Tripathy how viable has been this platform for them, he said, “At Godrej Interio we have used OOH extensively with both innovations and straight ones. We offered a live fashion show on an OOH property, 60 feet above ground, when we were launching our designer living room sets (skin designs were done by a renowned designer – Anita Dongre). This innovation worked for us in associating our products with a visual design edge for Godrej Interio. Or in another case, we are using OOH as a directional piece for a store launch where in over 40 sites drive traffic every 100 meters for a distance of 2km either side of the store.”

The entire innovative initiative was a great success for Godrej Interio in terms of bringing in traffic without any mass media advertising or even BTL activation to bring in foot falls. Hence, according to Tripathy smart usage of OOH can help in building a brand as well as bring in business.

Sharing how Posterscope’s clients have benefited out of this medium, Nayak said, “OOH medium helps the brands recall value and we have been using this medium quite extensively for a lot of our clients. It has helped our set of clients in terms of building brand recall value which led to encouraging sales.”

Giving an example of his client, Mother Dairy, Nayak said, “Considering the market scenario of Indian Outdoor Industry where billboards are not yet digital, capturing the attention of consumers is a challenge. Hence interacting with consumers through various technology and intelligence is essential. In India this was done for is the first time ever where the billboard is synchronized with Mobile technology creating a zonal texting solution , provoking and prompting consumers to go for the trial of the brand.”

Explaining the Mother dairy campaign, he mentioned that since the category is highly competitive they were required to say something that was different and not told before hence they thought of re-inventing a proposition with a relevant communication and activation. The communication was designed interestingly by showcasing the morning activities of different audience on the billboard. The idea behind the creative was to communicate clearly about making Hassled Mornings as Good Morning which is equal to Doodh Morning through Mobile text SMS.

As it comes across, this is supposed to be an expensive proposition therefore does it helps getting ROI for the brands, Gupta said, “OOH costs the least when compared to premium print, TV, radio or online, and when used intelligently gives the highest ROI. Creativity is only expensive when it is not holistic; when it encompasses areas of the advertiser-advertising agency relationship beyond the creatives, it not only saves money but also offers higher ROI. Customization is the key factor in this approach.”

On the ROI front, Nayak said, “It depends upon how a brand uses this platform. For example, well, the campaign not only delivered high brand recall but also helped the brand receive 9,60,812 SMS during the period and the sales improved by 1 million packets during the activity.”

Giving a brand custodians’ point of view, Tripathy said, “Yes, it is expensive and a lot of brands will possibly not look at ROI or actually be able to define it. Point is, once we are realistic with our objectives (read as returns we expect from the OOH campaigns) I think it in more cost effective and more grounded to reality. Also someone should develop a measurement currency for the medium. This will help in a big way for brands who do not use it currently.”

Kulkarni opined, “See OOH is an expensive medium. Plus if we want to have a sizeable presence then we need to have sufficient number of sites across the city, so looking at that OOH is an expensive medium. So we have to use OOH innovatively so that we can bring in good ROI. Sometimes you have only 2-3 new hoarding which will catch the attention of viewers.”

Impact of this trend…?
Tripathy said, “Very few brands actually use OOH solely or as the lead medium in urban India (rural India sees more of OOH usage in the form of wall paintings). This is due the lack of measurement of this medium. There is a way in which this can actually be calculated and developed. I am not sure if this unorganized industry really wants to get into measurement. My fear is that if this industry does not get organized, the vagaries of non-usage of the medium will continue.”

According to Gupta, “Creativity is the way ahead for any business that wishes to move beyond cutting prices and unhealthy competition where everyone is selling the same thing. No brand has to be everywhere and make a big splash all over the place. A select demographic, a well-thought out campaign, intelligent timing and superlative service can often take you where a big budget cannot.”

Do you think innovation is the future for the OOH industry?
Nayak believes that innovation will work in the OOH space. Creativity is the core for driving the OOH space. “Also it is important to keep a measurement system in place like we at Posterscope have OCS which helps us understand the ROI and the impact of the advertisement.”

Gupta opined, “It is. Creativity is the way out in every situation. It has to be the best response in any given situation. Global offers creative solutions that go way beyond the quality of lighting, cutouts or customization. Creativity is a state of mind that should encompass all departments of an OOH business. Our industry has a long way to go but we are on the way that way leads to the future.”

Tripathy explained that this is a medium that will see more of digitization. “We see this is more developed economies. Take a look at how OOH is used in the Times Square in NYC. I think that is where its heading. However, this will take a few years more for India to experience. I think it will continue to be a combination of innovations and plain vanilla,” he added.

“Yes, I think so because lot of innovations are required for this medium. Secondly, measuring the equity of this medium is also very important. Right now there is a big grey area in that space, so there has to be a measurement in this space which is acceptable to everybody in the industry,” Kulkarni stated.