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‘Tech adoption, common currency vital for OOH growth’

By M4G Bureau - August 02, 2021

Industry veteran Rajneesh J Bahl, who recently took over as CEO of Bright Outdoor Media, states that Indian OOH is poised for a rapid business recovery, that needs to be supported with industry-wide initiatives to develop a common currency for audience metrics, even as companies individually leverage new technologies to make OOH advertising more impactful.

Rajneesh J Bahl<br>CEO, Bright Outdoor MediaIn these challenging times, what is your vision for Bright Outdoor Media for the next 2-3 years as the new CEO?

The overall industry de-growth that has happened is due to circumstances and not because of industry failure. I am very optimistic that from August onwards, things will get back to normal. Once Mumbai opens up, the entire advertising  industry graph will go up.

The last one and a half year has taken a lot from us and now we need people who are totally motivated, or else we will not be able to encash the coming good days. July was the first month wherein in saw a break-even and that is a clear indication of a market revival.

This is in fact the right time to look at new things and put in resources for new capabilities. People now want to travel as they are fed up being indoors and being in the virtual world. They want real physical experiences.

Of course, we will definitely see behavioural changes in people and in the consumption patterns, including media consumption habits. But when it comes to outdoor media, it cannot be replaced because there is no replacement to outdoors. Research says that people, having been indoors for long, have now started noticing their environment more.  So, the next couple of years will be a period of repair for outdoors, but it will get repaired very fast. We will come back to where we were and after that we will grow very fast. Most of the corporations have started giving permissions for DOOH. We are also working on a few big projects.

Also, as a business we need to think beyond OOH too. So we have ventured into other mediums like TV, print, digital etc., and have partnered with Krish Media and  floated a new agency to offer a full bouquet of services to clients.

How do you expect this approach contributing to the growth of your OOH business?

The association with other businesses is only for meeting the needs of our own clients. Our main bread earner would still be OOH, and we would definitely pitch as an outdoor asset management company. We will not move away from our core area. We have some great people who know how to sell outdoors, so we want to play on that strength. My attempt will be to improve the ecosystem rather than change it - to modernise it and make it future- proof at international standards.

DOOH is growing fast. Is Bright Outdoor Media planning any significant business in this space?

Yes absolutely, Bright Outdoor Media is changing; we are getting into the digital space and we are grooming the talent for it. If you are planning for the next generation outdoor advertising technology, then you also need to be the next generation agency. So, we have brought in talent from outside and we are also scouting for new talent. We are also clear that we want to be in a space where we take care of the environment and also contribute to the outdoor industry.

What are your other plans for the immediate future ?

We are looking at new markets across the country, particularly the North and South and looking at properties for the long term.

At an industry level, what factors do you think will help the Indian OOH industry to regain ground and grow ad spends?

I have always believed that planning is not done rationally in the outdoor industry and there is no industry norm overall. We need a common currency that will help the industry grow collectively together.

The second factor is technology, especially for assets like digital hoardings, and the third is the integration of digital technologies with outdoors. For instance, technologies like geo-fencing are a great amalgamation of digital and outdoors.

I have been meeting a few good digital agencies who are coming up with some fantastic ideas for digital and outdoors to work together.

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