Changing equations in the Digital OOH industry in India today

OOH advertising in India has been growing at a steady rate, representing high potential for advertisers with a large young, working and informed population driving the spending on OOH media by the brand owners. According to the GroupM adex forecast for 2016, out-of-home is expected to see ad spend growth of 5.8 per cent in 2016.

Ken Research’s study titled ‘India OOH Advertising Industry Outlook to 2019’ states that Digital OOH and Transit Media would steer the growth in out-of-home advertising in India. As per the research, though the Digital OOH ad space has a small share in the OOH market, it has been the fastest growing segment and has established a strong foothold as reflected by its growing market share observed over the last few years.

Despite the unorganised segment having a sizeable chunk of the market, the organised players have been strategically increasing their market share by providing advertisers with a wide range of customised solutions.

AdGully spoke to a cross-section of OOH industry leaders to gauge the current scenario in the outdoor advertising industry in India, the growth drivers, growing prowess of Digital OOH, the technological developments, and more.

Growth drivers for OOH industry in India today

According to Nabendu Bhattacharyya, CEO & Managing Director, Milestone Brandcom, some of the growth drivers are the controlled environment mediums such as Delhi T3 Airport Medium, Mumbai T2 Airport Medium, followed by modern airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad. Then came the Metro Rail media in Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, and Mumbai, followed by the Mall/ Multiplex mediums across metros.

He further said that some of the categories active were Media & Entertainment, which included all GEC programmes/ Channel launch on all channels. “They are the maximum users of OOH mediums as they can’t advertise in competing channels. This is followed by Telecom Handset manufacturers/ sellers. Today, smartphone users are multiplying in India with the technological advancements and on an average, aspiring youth changes handset at least once a year. Hence, the need and usage increase,” Bhattacharyya noted.

Telecom service providers, BFSI category, E-commerce and M-commerce players also contributed to the growth of the OOH medium. He further said that a lot of local level spends were visible in the Gems & Jewellery and Real Estate categories as well.

“In my view I think there are three main growth drivers,” said Aman Nanda, EVP- Head Strategy, Business Development and Technology, Times OOH. According to him these are: First is the middle class - the Indian population which is out-of-home. Today, 70 per cent of the time we are not in our homes and spend it outdoors – be it malls, offices, picking up kids – where we consume OOH. That is one of the biggest drivers and also driving growth in the transit segment. There are a lot of malls, there are plans to build 100+ more airports that will come up in this country. People are travelling all over, metros have come and railways. This infrastructure, along with the changing habits of the consumer, is one of the biggest factors.

Second is the changing lifestyle of the consumers. Earlier, Indians were more drawn by savings and we are born with the culture of saving. But today’s consumer, the middle class, the young people – in the age group of 17-30 – are the ones who are really spending a lot of money. They are spending money on travel, real estate, luxury items. The average income has increased, the household income has increased three times in the last decade and so that’s also driving a lot of change and will help the ad industry as well as the OOH industry.

Third factor is technology – it is really becoming a hindrance for all the other sectors. So, if you take TV, people are recording TV channels, and fast-forwarding ads on Tata Sky. If you look at newspapers, people are reading it on the Internet and again, reaching out becomes an issue. With 6,000-plus newspapers in this country, the media planner finds it difficult to reach out to the target audience. But with OOH, the technology is reducing cost of screens, with the increasing mobile penetration, the technology is really going to help the OOH industry as a whole.

Along similar lines, Atul Shrivastav, CEO, Laqshya Media Group, remarked, “Today, people are more mobile and on the go, and because of that, 70 per cent of waking hours are spent outside of the home. So OOH becomes an important media to reach out to them. Advertisers have hence realised the potential of the medium.”

The other thing driving the growth, according to Shrivastav, is that other media channels are facing challenges. Technology and digital seamlessly integrate with OOH unlike other mediums like print, where conversion to digital has not been a plus.

He added, “Today, a lot many sectors bet on the Outdoor Efficacy. Sectors like e-commerce/ m-commerce are considering out-of-home as a crucial medium to build their brand and organised retails is utilising the medium to drive POP along with the traditional OOH spending categories that are investing on a year-long strategy. Most of the organised OOH agencies now have strong research base for the study of the competition, rating of the sites and planning tools to make the task more scientific and efficient. We’ve seen strong acceptance of Laqshya’s plans prepared on the basis of its planning tool “C-TAG” amongst the clients.”

Sanjeev Gupta, Managing Director, Global Advertisers, remarked that at present, the outdoor advertising in India is growing at a rate of 13 per cent and is expected to touch Rs 3,000 crore by the end of 2016. According to him, there are many factors influencing this growth, such as the wide network of premium hoardings, extensive reach in tier II and tier III cities, multiple media options, breakthrough innovations, cost effectiveness, best ROI and customised solutions for every industry have catalysed the performance of out-of-home industry in the recent past. In addition, there has been a significant shift in consumers’ lifestyles, the explosion in mobility and infrastructure development has also contributed in the growth of outdoor advertising.

He further said, “Over the years, Global Advertisers has successfully created innovate hoarding sites at strategic locations in Mumbai. With the blessings of Param Shraddhey Shri Radhe Guru Maa and inexhaustible competitive drive of professionals, Global has created a niche for itself in out-of-home advertising. Today, Global Advertisers provides OOH advertising services to clients throughout India. With over 100 brand launches, 500 campaigns and over 100 IPOs behind it, Global with its associates, affiliates and partners possesses nation-wide reach as well as segmental penetration.”

Mandeep Malhotra, Founding Partner & CEO, The Social Street, felt that, transit media is really driving the growth of OOH industry, while e-commerce and government are driving the needful on traditional media formats.

PM Balakrishna, former CEO, Percept Media and Media Consultant, considers technology and innovation to be the key drivers for the OOH medium. He said, “Increasingly, as we deal with brands, the role of OOH has moved beyond just being a reminder to actually serving as strong branding medium. With technology it is now possible to get consumers to connect with the brand in an interactive and engaging manner and take it beyond the passive communication of the past.”

Balakrishna further noted, “Availability of multiple formats has also made the communication on this medium a challenge and also an opportunity. It is now possible to catch the consumer eye beyond the streets and the market place and extend it to places of interest and personal space.”

The technological developments leading the OOH industry

According Nabendu Bhattacharyya, digital OOH usage depends on City & Countries Local Laws. In India most of the cities, moving digital display not allowed in roadside mediums, hence LED/Digital display largely visible in modern airports like T3, T2, Bangalore and Hyderabad airports, followed by Metro Rails & Malls Multiplexes as they are in controlled environment. Any technology that is used internationally could be used in LED/ Digital display formats at airports, malls metro rails, etc.

For Aman Nanda, these developments include reducing cost of the screens and increasing mobile penetration. He said, “I think what is really driving all of these is the location-based advertising. With these two things, what will help OOH industry to grow is local advertising. With that, you can pinpoint a particular advertiser within the area and give him a very stat. So if you are passing by a Starbucks store, you may get a Starbucks ad. This is the next change in OOH. So whether you are in airports or malls, you will get very focussed advertising which will give a far better value to the brands, and I think this is the very strong trend which will develop in the coming years.”

“Within controlled environment a lot of play has been happening in the digital/ electronic OOH space. QR/ VR/ projection, etc., are more acceptable as engaging OOH opportunities,” remarked Mandeep Malhotra.

Sanjeev Gupta commented that outdoor advertising had also engaged innovations like polygraphic inking, digital electro-luminiscence, bluecasting, and hypertag in this era of information and technology. “We are committed to investing in capital-intensive items like top quality LED that do not exist today. We have introduced various technologies that we are using in malls, airports, railway, super stores and multiplexes to grab the attention of masses,” he added.

Atul Shrivastav pointed out that globally, DOOH continued to accelerate and had been posting double digit growth, however digital advertising in India is slowly holding the ground. He noted that media owners are definitely considering DOOH as the biggest catalyst that would drive growth for outdoors.  “There are companies that have invested in Digital OOH, but currently regulatory issues and high costs are the roadblock that hold back the media owners to go digital,” he further said.

Shrivastav stressed on the need to have regulations in place to see the change and growth of DOOH. He said, “Delhi has taken the lead in showcasing the use and impact of DOOH media. The DOOH medium is playing a vital role in reaching out to this mobile TG even on their smartphones. Today, it is no longer about being visible, but engaging is crucial for the brands and digital screens provide engagement as they reach on-the-go consumers with a combination of dynamic ads and variety of interactive features. Also, DOOH will pave the way for better measurability of campaigns, something which has often been quoted as a weakness for this media.”

PM Balakrishna observed that with the increasing penetration of smartphones across both the urban and rural markets, the OOH medium has found a way to take the communication beyond passive to interactive and engage with these consumers on a one to one basis. He added that consumers are now targeted with spot-on campaign using Augmented Reality, QR codes, Near field Communication (NFC), Bluetooth, etc., to push contextual and tactical messaging at the point of purchase. “Brands are increasingly using these options in in-store and in-location, where the consumer is actively involved in purchase consideration. Last minute purchase decisions are being influenced and hence, brands cannot afford to ignore this powerful medium if they have to ensure that their advertising pays off and converts into sale,” Balakrishna said.

Client Speak 

According to the FICCI-KPMG report ‘The Future Now Streaming’, in 2015, the OOH industry in India received a boost by a combination of factors, including new categories spending on OOH media – e-commerce and m-commerce. The current year’s growth of 13 per cent was driven mainly by automobile, e-commerce and telecom sectors.

Giving a client’s perspective on leveraging OOH media, Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer,, said, “For our category – e-commerce – OOH works better as a reminder media. We have always followed a focused approach while developing outdoor campaigns. The emphasis is to reach out to core audience in select cities and in high reach and impact locations. We have also experimented with the choice of media within outdoor with a mix of outdoor hoardings, Metro train branding and pole kiosks.

He further said that Craftsvilla’s investment in OOH is a recent development. “Last year, we did few hoardings, however, this year we did a more elaborate spread with high reach and impact sites,” he added.

Elaborating further on the OOH strategy, Kalra said, “While we have done one-off outdoor campaigns, this was the first time we went all out and splashed our new communication across cities. The outdoor spends are always dependent on the total campaign budget. Depending upon the end objective and priority cities, we have maintained a healthy balance when it comes to percentage split of outdoor and other media.”

For its latest mass communication campaign for the ethnic fashion, Craftsvilla utilised outdoor as a supporting media. The e-commerce website had taken strategic sites across seven cities that was a mix of select metros and Tier 1 cities.


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