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Activation versus OOH: The multiplier effect

By M4G Bureau - December 12, 2013

Activation has a multiplier effect on the entire communication cycle, therefore brands are using activation as a multiplier to OOH or OOH as a multiplier to activation, says Kaushik Chakravorty, COO, Vivaki Specialist Services, as he shares with Outdoor Asia his thoughts on the role of activation in the context of OOH advertising.

Impact on Budgets

I have always been a big advocate of looking at it in a different angle altogether. I think we are tacking the stick from the wrong end because the ultimate aim of the brand is top catalyze the engagement with consumer and finally to transform the consumer of a product category into a customer of a brand.  And from a consumer stand point, I really don't think that he/she is very much bothered about how much and what communication he/she has seen through which medium. Communication to the customer is much more holistic than we think it is.  Therefore all the communication has to build into a holistic media plan.   Now, some have their own ways of product launches, so TV might be able to give you a much wider reach, but it may not be able to have a one-to-one with the consumer. Activation, on the other hand, may not give you that amount of reach, but would actually do a much better engagement.  It is not an either/or situation. Each of these things is complementary. Therefore OOH is also not a rival or a competition to any of these mediums and vice versa.

So, it is not that the OOH budget or any other medium's budgets are moving to any other mediums. The client has a certain amount of money, so depending on their objective, view point, efficacy and experience they had in earlier campaigns or activities, they allocate their budgets. There is a whole science behind it.
Activation has a multiplier effect on the entire communication cycle, therefore brands are using activation as a multiplier to OOH or OOH as a multiplier to activation. Brands add activation at an appropriate junction and it gives them multiplier effect. And like brands are using activation as a part of OOH scenario, the complete definition of OOH is therefore becoming much more robust, holistic and wide in perception and perspective than it was a couple of years back.

The synergies in OOH and activation are so apparent that it is amusing why we didn't think about it earlier. People have been doing off and on, but today it is catching more as a process. More and more brands are realizing that if they use all the mediums together then it works better. The returns can be much higher even without spending in the same ratio. The concept of marketers, agencies, planners and consumers are changing.  

Activation taking OOH medium ahead
Yes, activation is going to take the OOH ahead because this is how we are going beyond the obvious. Everyone knows that OOH can be so much but nothing more. Can we create something which is little more and beyond obvious? Because we all know the obvious is passé so that challenge is to go beyond obvious and not to compete between mediums because the competition is in our heads and consumer doesn't care and understand.  The customers are much more evolved than we realize.

Trends in Activation

Today with the proliferation of digital, the opportunity to give client a better experience has gone up.  Technology and consumers have evolved. Activation helps brands to bring about a complete one-one interaction between the consumer and the brand and therefore the chances of consumer becoming a client for that particular brand go up. Now it is no more relevant whether it is rural, urban or semi-urban, because any day the country itself is moving from a rural background to semi-urban and urban background. Aspirations are almost the same, but the question is of affordability. Your propensity to engage with the brand and therefore becoming a customer of that brand increases and that is where activation is helping. Consumer doesn't plan to consume according to any medium, consumer only consumes and how interestingly you can create something that he/she grasp it is the end story.               

Challenges in Activations as against traditional OOH

Challenges are everywhere. One of the challenges with activation is scale. Anything which really becomes successful needs to have three things- skill, scale and speed. As of today in activation, all these three could be much better. All these three things are challenges which we have to meet. However the ideation is good, technology has evolved and opportunities are there.

Taking Activation forward

The whole issue with activation is how much are we ready to explore and     take a risk. Exploring and risk taking is not the same as committing suicide. However, if the client and your own is not evolved enough to understand and to execute, then grand plans will take you nowhere. Yes new things will of course happen because the world is getting smaller and aspirational levels are getting much more standardized. There are companies which are selling much more in rural than in urban. The standard of living, education and awareness are growing in semi-urban and rural markets. We have to evolve and we will reach the international standards. According to me, the engagement activities will evolve faster compared to the way traditional OOH has evolved or any other medium has for that matter.  Activation can use all these mediums but the reverse is not really true. Activation can be used more robustly than OOH, but the only thing that activation still lacks is the scale.   

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