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‘DOOH is giving more brands access to the media’

By Rajiv Raghunath - March 05, 2020

Jian Tsin Hor, Managing Director, Rapport Malaysia talks about the changing contours of Malaysia’s OOH industry

How would you assess the Malaysia OOH market as it stands today vis-a-vis three years ago?

I would say the most obvious change is the increase in digital OOH inventory. That is seemingly driven by the fact that a lot of media owners are facing increasing cost of site acquisition and so they need to find ways to get greater returns per site and they feel that going digital is the way to achieve that by running multiple advertisements on a single site at any point in time. So, that is the biggest change.

There has been a significant expansion of metro rail networks in the Klang Valley, in Kuala Lumpur, leading to the introduction of a lot of transit media. That’s another big change that is seen on the OOH landscape.

OOH offers a variety of advertising formats today. Is that helping the medium to attract more advertisers?

To be fair, I don’t think that there was a drop off in OOH spends in Malaysia in the recent years. Innovative use of outdoor advertising, activation, and lately digital OOH are all enhancing the perception of OOH. Transit media, like those on the LRTs, have also augmented the OOH offerings to brands. Add to this, formats like car wrap that are becoming popular with advertisers.

There are several OOH formats available today. I think it's important for the advertisers to know what they want to achieve and which format can help them achieve that result.

If anything, I would say that the current economic climate is the only threat to the industry, but that’s not limited to OOH. So, we are not so worried about it. Just that we should have to be more conservative in our approach to business. 

Unlike traditional mediums like TV and print which are seeing a huge drop in consumption, OOH is being seen by advertisers as pivotal to their plans, because the audiences are mostly out of home every day. 

With the increase in DOOH networks, are you seeing a visible increase in brand engagement in the OOH space?

Yes, with DOOH networks being available, advertisers would not have to lock down any site for a long period. With DOOH, most sites will be available any time. So, advertisers, especially in the current economic climate where they are a little more conservative on spending, would fall back on locking down long-term sites and leave a bit of budget to be used as and when they feel they're able to -- on digital. DOOH has given them that flexibility.

On the other hand, DOOH has also attracted new business into the industry. Before this, if you didn't have huge amounts of money, you couldn't do outdoor advertising. With digital OOH you are able to buy up to a week. So, what we are seeing is a lot of SME clients with small budgets being able to go for outdoor advertising. The barriers have been lowered for them, and that's a good thing.

Going digital not only improves the quality of ad displays but also offers the scope for greater brand-consumer interactions. Do you see technologies like AR being used much more today?

I'm happy to say that Rapport Malaysia was probably the first to do an augmented reality OOH engagement way back in 2012. We did it for FNN. However, I must add that in Malaysia we don’t have a strong pedestrian market unlike a lot of other mature countries with good connectivity. And because of that we don't have a lot of pedestrian friendly large format screens. Even the existing screens don't have the space for you to interact with. So, that has not encouraged a lot of people to explore the engagement opportunities in the DOOH media space. 

Do you see scope for integrated media planning for digital and OOH, now that DOOH networks are growing?

Unfortunately, I don’t see that being realistic because there is no credible enough method to capture OOH audience.

I have seen some models trying to build a case for a CPM model for OOH, but they are just trying to find ways to boost the CPM by coming up with assumptions and but the assumptions don't seem very strong to me, coming from a media planning background.

With OOH becoming increasingly tech-oriented, are you seeing the need for new kinds of talent working in this industry? 

A very good point. In fact, in Rapport Malaysia, we actually have people who are neither from the OOH industry nor have a media planning background but have web media background instead.  The help us in developing the methods for employing technologies. 

We mobilise these guys is to make sure that we are aware of the technologies that are available and we deconstruct those technologies and try to see how we can apply them in OOH, so that we always have a ready tool kit to play with whenever a brief comes by that is more tech oriented.

Do you see a greater application of data science in Malaysia OOH?

The main problem with data science in Malaysia is the lack of relevant data and the lack of willingness to invest in data – because it is a leap of faith.

Is OOH becoming more consumer centric? 

OOH is still a mass buy. It is being bought as one to many. There are initiatives like mobilisation of facial recognition tech, retina scanning hardware on our phone, etc. We have started the journey, but I don't think we have reached a destination yet.

 

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