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‘OOH reinforces the trust factor’: Ram Jalan

By Bhawana Anand - September 30, 2019

Ram Jalan, CMO, Omaxe Ltd talks about the real estate brand’s outlook on OOH advertising. Edited excerpts:

Where does OOH stand in your marketing plan?

Today, marketing -- whether in the real estate sector or elsewhere – is about having a 360 degree approach that assigns to OOH an integral role. OOH comes in pretty handy in building a brand’s reach. Outdoor is not quite a demand generation medium but is actually apt for building recall and reach. If I am doing a high decibel online or TV campaign, OOH is quite the essential medium to support that.

Another advantage of OOH is that it helps build the trust with customers. In the real estate category, digital media is used to drive reach, visibility, recall, cost efficiency and measurability but when it comes to building a brand’s trust, print and outdoor are the two mediums to go for. That is because the end-user perceives, if a brand has advertised on OOH it will be there in the market for the long-term.

In addition, advertising on OOH at strategic locations has its own advantage. For instance, advertising on an outdoor site located right outside a Metro rail station will help that brand to connect with a large target audience.

OOH is key to advertising in the non-metro cities and smaller cities and towns too where people have more time to consume the advertisements. There are instances where people in the smaller cities noticed our outdoor advertisement and got in touch with us.

The real estate industry has faced rather difficult business challenges in recent times. How has your brand coped with them, and what was your approach to advertising in this period?

Budget constraints were not the key reason for real estate brands to cut back their spends on OOH. Brands like ours wouldn’t have entered the real estate business if this industry was not willing to embrace the new ways of doing business. Likewise, our ad spends too had to be more strategic.

Earlier the majority of real estate OOH spends were tactical in nature. For instance, if one real estate brand had taken up hoarding spaces for advertising, another brand would take up the gantries that are more expensive, say on the DND stretch. But that is no longer the case. Also, with the reduction in OOH inventories, the cost of this medium has gone up phenomenally, especially in Delhi NCR, and that also places curbs on the ad spends.

Today, as the real estate industry is going through changes, you will not see random brands going for OOH. Also, those brands have come to realise that the trust factor is more important than just visibility when it comes to conversions. Therefore, brands have become cautious about spending on outdoor media.

Third, outdoor advertising has to be a part of your overall marketing strategy. Brands like ours with a 360 approach to advertising are more likely to opt for OOH. So, OOH will never go out of our budgets.

What is your strategy for selecting outdoor sites and locations? Do you go for sites close to your project location, or those in the close proximity of your target customers?

We go for both kinds of locations. Also, at our project sites too we are able to build our brand visibility. So, we do the branding of our sites and second, we look at OOH sites in the 2-5 km radius of our projects.

We also opt for sites on locations like DND Flyway to connect with people traveling between Noida and Delhi. So that’s how we plan our metro city campaigns. In B and C cities, we target congregation points, arterial roads, the central business district, etc.

At which point is OOH critical to your marketing push – at the time of the project launch or for maintaining your brand imagery?

OOH has become expensive, so it is used mainly at the time of project launches. That is followed by high mass reach advertising through digital, radio or OOH itself. The entire customer journey features OOH, but it has to be planned properly at every stage.

How would you assess your engagement with the OOH industry?

I have been lucky to work with professional OOH agencies. However, in states like UP and Bihar we have had to tread carefully to avoid having our campaign on sites that are unauthorised or could potentially pose legal challenges.

We would always want to be sure that we work with only legitimate businesses and with legitimate contracts. That said, we have found that it is not always easy to differentiate sites that are legal and those that are not.

It is challenge to have your campaigns running on sites that not tracked properly. Also, we are not very sure if our campaign creative is up on the site in the entire duration of our campaign. There are also issues with the quality of display, lighting, innovation, flex, etc.

Do you opt for digital OOH media for your campaigns?

The challenge with DOOH is since the supply is limited whereas the demand for it is high, it becomes expensive. Digital OOH needs to be main-streamed.

How do you monitor your OOH campaign and ROI?

We have started measuring our outdoor campaigns in-house. We can measure the response from each and every site. We have assigned a unique tracking number to each site that features our campaign.

Every site used is given a dedicated mobile number, so if somebody calls from near a Gurugram site or Noida or Nehru Place site, we get to know which site has generated that interest. This helps us in our media planning and whether a particular location or site is working for our campaign.

Do you think the Indian OOH industry is on right track and has capability to match international standards?

The organised segment of Indian OOH is getting better, and eventually the unorganised players will sell out or shut down. However, that will also push up the media cost by 10%-15%. Still, that would be a better situation to be in where we are sure of getting the right kind of media, at the right cost.

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