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‘Robust tech, reliable data can potentially drive OOH growth by over 25%’

By M4G Bureau - October 27, 2020

Bharat Rajamani calls for ‘one industry, one planning tool’, a pre-requisite for boosting advertiser confidence in OOH

Bharat Rajamani, CEO of US Advertising, is imbued with the indomitable spirit of bringing about the big change in Indian OOH that will take the industry to exalted heights. Having worked with the Big 4 in the consulting space, and across diverse business sectors, Bharat is bringing to the table a wealth of experience while chalking growth plans for different OOH constituents. He’s deeply passionate about the initiatives to develop robust audience data for effective OOH planning, a subject on which he’s scheduled to speak at the ‘OOH Dialogues’ digital conference on October 29. He shared his perspectives on the subject of OOH audience data in an interview to Bhawana Anand. Edited excerpts:

Bharat Rajamani, CEO<br> US AdvertisingHow data-driven OOH advertising will induce brands and agencies to put far more ad dollars for OOH?

One of the biggest reasons for the slow growth rate of outdoor advertising as against other media is the paucity of data. Digital has managed the highest acceptance in no time because one can track everything on that medium in real time. More data, more metrics hence more ways of evaluation.

Outdoor is a powerful media that has built brands. Even the most powerful brands in the world today use outdoor media to advertise but the proportion of media spends is low due to the opaqueness of this media in terms of data. Now, with location science that can provide the metrics on dwell time, distance travelled, number of visits, etc,, the outdoor media is bound to grow faster than ever before. Today, advertisers are very keen to understand how to differentiate one site from another in terms of effectiveness and ROI. Further, the advertiser no longer wants the proof of execution at the end of the campaign while clearing bills; rather he/she wants that information on a real-time basis.

If the outdoor agencies and media owners can invest more energies on making outdoor a transparent media where everything is backed by robust technologies and reliable data, then in my view outdoor has a potential to grow at 25+%.

What steps will facilitate accelerated adoption of OOH audience data tools for planning?

The industry needs to come together and adopt once common platform that is unanimously accepted by Advertisers, Agencies and Media Owners. The problem today is that everyone is developing their own tools and that does not give much confidence to the Advertiser.

Some of the planning tools available in the market, list the sites of certain specific media owners who may pay for the listing. That results in bias towards a particular set of media owners.

What are the current barriers, and how they can be overcome?

Well, the key barrier to developing a robust and common planning tool is lack of collaboration. We need to understand that advertisers acknowledge outdoor as a very powerful media but they lack faith in the way it is managed today. Advertisers will have AoR for TV, Digital, Print and even Radio but when it comes to outdoor, most advertisers like to ask for 3-4 vendor quotes and in most cased award the work to L1 bidder. The planning approach has taken a back seat because the data is not perceived as reliable by the advertiser. The same site may have three different viewership estimates in three different plans by respective agencies.

I am pained to see it that way because I am very passionate about this media and sincerely believe that it is the next big thing if honed properly.

The solution in my view is “one industry, one planning tool”.

With multiple agencies developing audience data tools, will Indian OOH see a common currency for audience metrics coming about?

I have already said that every agency is coming up with its own planning tool. While all these tools may be effective in some way but so many different tools and measurement techniques also create a doubt in the advertiser’s mind. No one is in a position to tell which one is better than the other unless the industry comes together to identify the most suitable and accurate tool of the lot.

A planning tool must be independent, robust, future ready and transparent. Outdoor itself is changing and evolving; slowly but surely, we are moving towards digitization of outdoor. A lot of transparency with come with increasing share of digital outdoor. We in the outdoor fraternity are trailing in terms of growth as against OTT and Digital media. Now is the time for us to work towards achieving transparency in what we plan and implement else outdoor media will be trailing by a light year.


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