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There is scope to more than double the base of advertisers: Abhay Mishra

By M4G Bureau - July 13, 2015

Abhay Kumar Mishra, CEO, Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd, shares his thoughts on OOH advertising on the Metro network in an interview to Rajiv Raghunath. Mishra is a visionary leader with 34 years of rich experience in the real estate and infrastructure sectors. Prior to joining Reliance, he was associated with Emaar MGF Land Pvt. Ltd as COO-Special Projects in Real Estate Sector. In 2013, he Mishra joined Reliance and is leading its Metro business with great business acumen and astute leadership. Edited excerpts of the interview:

Mumbai Metro One has completed one year of operations. How would you assess the first year in terms of passenger traffic and revenues?

The first year was a great revelation which saw the Metro carrying 92 million passengers in the year.  It has also emerged as the 8th densest corridor in the world. Revenues were encouraging both from fare and non-fare revenue standpoints and we look forward to providing best-in-class public transportation services on a sustainable basis to our commuters.

Over the last one year various brands have advertised on Mumbai Metro media. What steps would you take in the coming times to increase brand advertising on Mumbai Metro network?

200+ brands were onboard the Metro in the 1st year.  These brands saw the Metro as a fresh and unique format to reach the busy Mumbaikars. However, we feel there is scope to more than double the base of advertisers as there is still a cross-section of media planners who are not fully aware of the power of Metro. The 32 lakh unique commuters on the Metro, in a month, signify the colourful diversity of Mumbai city, yet have a common thread, in that nearly 70% are working professionals. These are the tech savvy generation of young consumers - an ideal TG for a lot of brands across FMCG, F&L, Ecommerce, BFSI sectors, etc.

So, we are looking at increasing the awareness of Mumbai Metro as a media solution by using a variety of tools like OOH, digital, direct marketing, etc., which should definitely translate to higher penetration and increased volume of brand advertising.

I should like to add that we have undertaken several steps in this direction, namely:

a. Introduction of networked digital screens across the Metro stations allowing the brands to carry dynamic content. The digital screens are strategically placed where there is maximum dwell time.

b. We also engage in undertaking market research through a renowned firm; the research will provide key data to the brands about what kind of people travel on the Metro, their habits, the brand recall they had during the last year, their shopping habits, their internet consumption, etc.

c. We have also introduced train wraps which allow brands to own a train. This has been a huge hit and we look forward to having more brands to use this media in conjunction with activation at the Metro stations to get full mileage.

What are your network expansion plans? Do you see ad revenues contributing a significant part of your non-traffic revenues as your routes increase?

We are currently focused on the Mumbai Metro Line I. We will be part of network expansion in case more projects are introduced on PPP basis.

Have you looked at any Metro model globally with regard to engaging media companies and advertising brands?

The media network at Mumbai Metro is at par with international public transit systems. Having said that, we have a glocal approach to building the media solutions at the Metro. So, while the design of media products will be as per global standards, the actual media package is tailormade to the needs of Indian brands to reach out to Mumbai's local commuter base.

We have a team which looks at continuous R&D in OOH innovations which are happening in this space, and we see if we can use some of those concepts to engage our audiences. The digital media screens, motion detection screens are the few which have been inspired from other metros around the world.

OOH media companies are looking for long-term contracts of 10 years and more.  What are your views on this? Do you think that longer-tenured ad contracts are a win-win for both sides?

We understand that this is a long-term business and to stabilise and get a partner to invest in state-of-the-art technology to create wonderful platform for brands, it needs to have long-term commitment from both the project operator as well as from the OOH media company.
Long-term tenures ensure deeper involvement with the property for the media partner, allowing them to understand and carve out best fit solutions.

Bigger investments can be made to ensure a robust and high quality media plan and inventory, which will reap dividends over time.

Given that proper checks and balances are in place to evaluate the success of the contract on a timely basis, long-term tenures ensure a fulfilling partnership rather than an owner-vendor relationship,

What kind of innovative media can be created on Mumbai Metro network, both inside trains and at stations?

Mumbai Metro offers a variety of touch points to engage the urban commuter. The Metro train body itself offers a huge one-of-a-kind mobile canvas for brands, which is un-missable within the stations, as well as across the city. These train wraps have been a huge hit and with media screens inside the trains carrying the dynamic content, they present the opportunity for brands to be a huge moving billboard and is not only appreciated by the Metro commuters but also by the people on the road.

As passengers spend nearly 20 minutes inside train, branding of panels like handle bars, floor strips, wall panels together ensure high quality eyeballs. Also, digital ad screens inside the train are equipped to play dynamic AVs, to ensure high buzz.

Stations are home to backlit media panels of varying sizes which offer a complete storyboard solution for brands to weave their stories.
We have a huge digital network of 200+ screens across key stations which offer tremendous frequency and also breathe life into static OOH campaigns -- this is a first time in the Metro space in India.

Apart from that, experiential spaces at busy concourse areas offer opportunity for on-ground promotion, sampling and distribution. Targeted media solutions like frisking booth branding, staircase branding, floor graphics, etc., ensure 360 degree brand building.

Rapid growth of transit infrastructure in major cities in India has paved the way for a greater supply of OOH assets. In your view, why would advertising brands want a sizeable presence on OOH media available on Mumbai Metro network?

Increase in supply also leads to the problem of making the right choice. Traditionally, OOH has been perceived only as a reminder medium and is still used as a filler media. However, with increase in competition, the players that will survive in the long term are ones who are able to innovatively map their product with the right brand needs. The Mumbai Metro Media network is primarily a niche media property, which offers urban audiences, uncluttered formats, high dwell times in a captive space and a unique mix of static, digital and experiential formats.  We feel that brands which are young at heart, urban, innovative and inspiring, will definitely see value in being present onboard the Metro ad network.

In addition to the above, the Metro despite being a small network carries more than 32 lakh unique commuters in a month and it touches almost every Mumbaikar at least once in 6 months and hence it is a great opportunity for the brands to talk to Mumbaikars by just being on the Metro.

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