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The 5G moment of Indian OOH

By Rajiv Raghunath - October 13, 2022

Fabian Trevor Cowan draws parallels between fintech role in BFSI growth and adtech setting the ground for D/OOH transformation

At a time when the country is gearing up for and looking forward to the tremendous growth possibilities that the fifth generation of mobile telephony brings with it, the OOH media ecosystem in India may still be grappling with a buffered reluctance to take the proverbial generational leap. Presently the OOH industry as whole can reflect and brace itself for its very own 5G moment that enables exponential growth, backed by intelligence, measurement and speed.

I was privileged to host the Global Fintech Fest- GFF 2022, the largest of its kind in the world, and could not help but draw parallels between the BFSI industry and the #OOH industry as a whole.

Fabian Trevor Cowan, Founder, 1BB & independent D/OOH consultantA lot has been written about the pandemic and how it impacted many an industry, but at the core it fundamentally altered how people interact with the world around them. Among others, a huge benefactor of this behavioural change driven largely by digital adoption has been the BFSI sector. 

The stupendous growth in the BFSI industry, pioneering financial inclusion across India and in many ways giving direction to the world, has been based primarily on its adoption of new age tech provided by fintech start-ups, that surfaced before and during the pandemic. The adoption of fast paced, accurate and intelligent tech and data platforms by an industry that is largely made up of huge PSU behemoths of the post-independence era has helped leapfrog the industry as a whole. Estimates suggest that the Global Fintech Market size is expected to reach USD 332.5 billion by 2028 and is poised to grow at a CAGR of 19.8%.

But what does this have anything to do with the OOH ecosystem in India. Well, I believe that a medium that is arguably the oldest form of advertising is on the cusp of experiencing similar growth and success if it is only willing to visualise the benefits of and adopts new data and tech platforms that have as much to offer to the OOH industry as fintech offers to the BFSI industry.

The next revolution in Indian OOH will be driven by-

Digital Transformation: The kind that is mindset driven and not asset driven.This transformation is well and truly overdue. It may be argued that it is happening, what with all the digital inventory being set up around cities; but the need of the hour is a mindset transformation not just an asset transformation. While DOOH inventory has increased significantly, the intelligence that advertisers require is still inadequate, and can only be provided if tech-enabled solutions are adopted and enabled. From Real Time Identification Platforms, to computer vision analytics and more there are adtech solutions that are key to the progress of the industry.

Media Traceability: Tech can also solve one of the most fundamental lacunae in the OOH domain which is traceability. Even today in a digitised world, the information and availability of a media owners’ assets is only known to location specific advertising agencies, and may be a few clients, shared primarily via mail on a fortnightly basis. Why can’t a site in Mumbai be traceable in Manhattan for a brand to book online in a few seconds? Is it possible? Of course, it is, through ad exchanges that can be created in quick time if media owners across the spectrum want to enjoy high levels of traceability and make themselves available for business in real time across the world. This is not rocket science and only needs the one thing that has been missing all along; the industry’s acceptance of this possibility and their adoption of these solutions. There are adtech start-ups out there just waiting for the industry to see the power of these tech solutions which can kickstart the metamorphosis of India OOH.

The potential is evident and proven, given that the global DOOH market size is projected to reach US$ 36,230 million by 2028, from US$ 20,750 million in 2021, at a CAGR of 8.1% during 2022-2028 (source--The Market Reports). With Google making its intent clear with its entry into the OOH space, it is incumbent on the media owners and the industry as whole to smarten up and adopt the new tech that will help them ride the next wave of D/OOH

Government Policy: The welcome change in the perception and policies pertaining to OOH as an industry by governments across states, is giving the ecosystem a new lease of life and encouraging stakeholders to create inclusive and collaborative efforts for better portrayal and management of media. As media owners build plans that augment the government policies, we will witness a transformation that is akin to internationally mature markets sooner than later.

DOOH Inventory: As the lines between metros and tiers of cities blur, the increase in population across geographies will be a given, bringing with it newer challenges that will require smarter approaches from a civic point of view. And cities are only as smart as their OOH locales are. Thus, the increase in digital inventory is not only a boon for advertisers to reach their audiences in better ways but also an enabler for better governance, better management and better communication with citizens as a whole. Recent research suggests that DOOH advertising contributes to almost 30% of OOH revenues worldwide. Under these circumstances, the path to exponential growth will be paved by a robust digital expansion.

Adtech Platforms: Increase intelligence that advertisers can benefit from facilitating an increase in spends and the growth of the industry as a whole. Significantly interesting and pioneering efforts have been made in this space by a few adtech start-ups and it's just a matter of time inclusion and adoption takes place. The first movers will obviously benefit, looking forward to days ahead, where future focused media owners see value in collaboration and inclusive adoption of OOH intelligence.

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