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TRPs for TV, eye balls for DOOH?

By M4G Bureau - May 07, 2013

While digital has been a buzzword in the industry, it has yet to take off in India in a big way. Outdoor Asia chats with Mandar Gupte, Sales Director (Media & Entertainment), Barco Electronics System to understand the challenges and loopholes that exist in the digital out of home (DOOH) space.

It goes without saying that Digital OOH medium has become a need of the hour today. But where international outdoor industries are enjoying the flavor of interactivity and connectivity that it brings, Indian OOH industry is still pushing hard to create a proper space for the digital medium. So what are the issues? Mandar Gupte, Sales Director (Media & Entertainment), Barco Electronics System feels, "The success and popularity of DOOH will depend on its uniqueness and it's connectivity with patrons. If the right content and technology can be deployed, we will see higher market attractiveness towards this medium.”
Well, he should know for Barco is a global technology company that designs and develops visualization solutions for various sectors including the Outdoor advertising segment. Barco LiveDots offers high-performance LED display solutions for both indoor and outdoor installations; fixed install and rental applications. From the most straight-on, cost-effective LED tile for 24/7 use to the top-end of creative LED solutions. Barco has presence all over the world including London, Paris, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, Zürich, Barcelona, Dallas, Amsterdam, Toronto, New York, Dubai, Istanbul, Shanghai, Brussels, Moscow, Prague, Madrid and Caracas.
Road blocks
Coming back to the challenges in this space, Mandar feels it has to do with the mindset of the industry. "First, the negative perception in India about Digital OOH must change; we still see a preference towards static advertising. The entire OOH ecosystem in India needs to be aligned to the Digital era,” says he.
Apart from perceptions, Mandar also feels that standardization of products is another reason. "We have seen sub-standard and cheap equipment installations which dampen the hype created around the digital medium. These initial deployments experienced a lot of hurdles like product quality, bad installs, poor maintenance etc. For sure, the equipment needs to weather the Indian environmental conditions of heat, humidity, rain and dust. We have Barco installations for indoor and outdoor applications which have been running for over five years without any major maintenance issues,” he adds. Also, while it is very tempting to blame the laws and the authorities for the slow growth in this segment, Mandar feels the laws in India are not much different from other countries. It all boils down to the right attitude is what he reiterates.
Us versus them - adaption is the key
International DOOH industry has always been seen as an inspiring story but again, Mandar feels that the Indian industry needs to first cope with specific Indian issues.  "There are many challenges, like producing the right quality content in the required format, and then advertisers are not willing to invest in producing specific content for DOOH, then there is the absence of a standard measuring body and most importantly, the early deploys of DOOH did not utilize the advantages that the digital systems offers,” he explains.
While comparing Indian DOOH to its international counterpart, Mandar once again highlights difference in the attitude and approach, "The advertisers here are not familiar with the concept of time share on a digital medium. Also, in India size matters, advertisers prefer large static media v/s smaller size digital media. Besides, the Ad slots on digital in India are a lot costlier than the static/international digital slots. Media agencies here should realize the difference between situations from the end viewer's point of view, for example an office goer thinks differently in the morning when compared to when he drives back home in the evening; so the same static ad will not appeal to him anymore. Similarly a customer in a super market is different from a daily metro commuter, they all think differently in different situations. The Indian advertiser needs to understand these basic advantages that DOOH offers as compared to the conventional static medium. Globally the industry has adapted to the latest technology and the changing behaviors of the customer.”
Digital advantages
Conventional OOH medium has faced challenges when it comes to planning a campaign but as far as the digital medium is concerned, it has today overcome linguistic barriers and language translations are now done real time. "Barco for example has digital signage products which can scale the same content to different type of displays and formats which make it convenient for the advertiser to run a networked campaign,” explains Mandar.
Measurability is yet another area where digital scores high. "OOH has suffered due to the lack of a standardized measurement body. With DOOH there are efforts being made in this direction by some professional organizations globally. I am sure if the TRP's on television can be accurately measured, then why can't the eyeball hits on a digital boards? Interactivity will play a major role in this field. If the viewer is engaged with the display, then that is your answer! Hence situation, location, content impact are very critical elements which will determine the success of DOOH going forward,” says Mandar.
He finally sums up on a positive note, "Technology is evolving rapidly, we must start developing solutions which are situation specific with the technology and tools which are available with us and make the best use of them. It is important to understand the mindset of today's viewers/customers and provide solutions which appeal to them. We cannot imagine our lives without internet & mobiles today, if we can make use of this media for DOOH, it will make a world of a difference. After all we are in the era of any-source-anywhere!”  


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