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Activation versus OOH: It's all about synergy

By M4G Bureau - December 13, 2013

Haresh Nayak, Managing Director - Posterscope India on why activation must be looked at as a supplementary medium, rather than as a competing medium in the context of OOH advertising.

Impact on budgets

Out-of-home is actually growing at a stable rate, with a 6% to 7% industry growth which has been consistent. But it may be unfair to compare at this stage. Every discipline or every medium grows at its own pace. Activation is definitely a growing medium, but it may be too early to say if it is taking away the share of digital media or outdoor.

Comparing Effectiveness

Activations and the digital mediums are actually helping brands to reach out to consumers in a much more engaging manner. Gone are the days when passive communication was fine --  you plaster the entire city with the traditional media, you take newspapers, magazines, televisions etc and your job was done. Today, it is all about engagement, about active advertising where you need to engage, and which is where I see activation or the digital medium adding far more value to the brand and its consumers.

Activation as a convergent medium

If you look at today's scenario, brands are not really looking at the medium, they are actually looking at the communication.  They are talking about synergies or convergence and this is best delivered in the Indian scenario through activation, because I can use outdoor with some kind of engagement through activation; it supplements the value. Mall activation through digital technology for example creates a lot of engagement. So I feel activation in this convergent world is adding far more value today than it was earlier in India specifically, because in countries like U.K. or U.S, it is more of digital activation.  In India on the other hand, activation is playing a far more important role in converging different mediums and adding lot of value to the brand.  
Discernible trends

We have done a few activations for Kinder Joy, Fox Traveller, Skoda Rapid and few other companies and I see that a lot of brands are looking at accountability, measurements, planning etc in the context of activation. They don't want to do an activation just for the sake of it; it has to create some kind of ROI and there are some parameters, like how much buzz it has created, that the brands look for.

Measuring ROI in activation

For any brand, we first look at the innovative approach that can be taken; the more innovative it is, the larger the chances of audience being engaged. The measurement is largely done based on the point of engagement. When we do an activation in a mall or at a corporate park, the measurement is done based on the people who participate in the activity, the time spent and the actual sales conversion. So some of the activations are also sales led. For example, the last activation we did for Kinder Joy was also driven by sales. For Cadbury we had a mobile moving counter which acted as an activation unit, and which was also selling the products. For Skoda Rapid, request for test drive created lot of leads for sales conversion. Here again, it was driven by sales, so the impact was measured in terms of the sales conversions. 

Will Activations replace traditional OOH?

I don't think so; every medium has its own role and it is important to look at what each can deliver. You need many pillars to drive home any communication, so I believe that both the mediums will complement each other and I believe going down the line it will be about synergy rather than competition between the mediums.

Challenges in activations

In today's scenario there are many challenges; the consumer's time and attention span are very limited. So if I am not innovative and different, there will be no impact.  So whatever activation I do, it has to be different and that is a challenge. Consumers today are far more impatient than they were a decade ago. The other challenge would obviously be the cost factor. The cost involved in activation is growing. If you do an activation in a mall for example, it can become far more expensive than what it used to be earlier. So cost is also a big constraint.

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