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‘We built trust with our content first approach’

By Rajiv Raghunath - August 27, 2019

Gautam Bhirani, Managing Director, EyeTalk Media Ventures shares perspectives on the DOOH ecosystem and the key drivers of business growth

Gautam BhiraniDo you believe that Digital OOH has reached a tipping point in the Indian market? What are the discernible trends that you see in Digital OOH business worldwide, and how they stack up in India?

When I forayed into OOH advertising back in 2008-09, digital OOH was still making a lot of noise and considered the next big thing in the advertising ecosystem and not just on the OOH media landscape. Its’s been a decade now and for the first time it feels like we are finally in the transition phase, with brands looking out for investments on digital formats and media owners are aggressively investing in digital OOH. The number of digital displays are rapidly increasing across various touchpoints and with civic authorities planning new advertising policies we are likely to witness a plethora of digital displays in various formats in public places across the country which will sooner or later bring about a drastic change in the ad spends, buying and planning processes.

Digital OOH worldwide is a completely different story, the entire ecosystem – brands, media owners and agencies -- understands the medium exceptionally well and is in sync with the common goal of fuelling the growth of this powerful advertising channel. Media owners invest in top quality infrastructure and achieve great ROI because of a digitally driven and ready OOH market. If you look at the market share of DOOH in India, it has been significantly low at 3%-5%, whereas in countries like UK & Australia DOOH share is over 40%, China over 70% and US accounts for 25% for world’s DOOH advertising revenues. The key differentiator is knowledge. Although some of the media owners in India are investing in digital displays today, not many are investing in technology that makes their media truly digital. This is also because of the existing buying practices where digital OOH is not used the way it should be and is being bought the same way traditional OOH is bought. Digital OOH in its current form in many places is seemingly no different than an ad scroller. With more digitally inclined investments in infrastructure we should be able to see a change in the near future where trading will move from buying space and time to impressions.

Programmatic OOH is still at a nascent stage globally, but you have made strident progress in this regard through EyeTalk Media Ventures. Tell us about the success factors.

Programmatic OOH is still at a nascent stage because of the lack of infrastructure that is required for automation, and that is not because of lack of technologies but lack of clarity amongst the media owners and buyers on this front. We are at an interesting point in the evolution of advertising’s oldest medium where the tech is ready, but the people and business processes haven’t caught up with this shift. Changing how DOOH is budgeted, planned and bought means agencies and clients need to make a lot of changes to their current processes. Similarly, in the case of media owners, as traditional OOH is bought in a very cloistered manner with personally negotiated direct deals, moving to a more open, liquid market is perceived as risky and so programmatic remains a grey area. As media owners struggle to adapt to this shift there aren’t enough programmatic ready networks advertisers can tap into for consolidated reach and impact.

At Eyetalk Media Ventures, along with over a 1,000 displays we have also invested heavily in technology that drives our content first platforms. Built on IoT (Internet of Things) our networks are completely automated and programmatic ready which can be integrated with any DSP (Demand Side Platform). In the last two years we have been able to build programmatic ready consolidated networks which enable an advertiser through a DSP not only to buy and broadcast real-time but reach the same audience in multiple cities through the same channel -- which has attracted some of the biggest global players in the programmatic space.

It is fair to say, the technology our displays are driven on, the extensive reach with high engagement levels we provide at a national level and the audience we sell in captive environments are all key factors for fetching us contracts from the Global Ad Exchanges. This shift is a new revenue stream and provides great compensation for organisations like us investing heavily in DOOH infrastructure while OOH agencies still take time to adapt to it.

You have successfully engaged some of the most sought-after advertising brands on your consumer engagement platforms. What’s making all this happen. Please illustrate some of those brand engagements.

Our society is more mobile, active and urban than ever before. The audience is experiencing ad blindness in the current times when data overdose through interruption has become the order of the day. But EyeTalk Media Ventures emerged as a way to offer disruption in the market by leveraging the power of the digital medium.

Changing consumer behaviour and evolving media consumption habits created a vacuum which worked as an incubator for a DOOH platform with a difference. In the complex advertising ecosystem, we laid emphasis on 3 Ws - Who, Where, When and 1 H - How. Moving beyond just ads in today’s visually cluttered world we transformed the humble ad scroller into a live content broadcast medium. We built consumer engagement platforms that connect with the digitally driven and socially connected audience by integrating content they create and consume on their smartphones.

Our maiden Hyperlocal Network – TagTalk, is today connected in leading F&B chains across the country has done over 500,000 interactions featured over 400 content creators in the last one year, making it the first such DOOH platform. We built trust with our content first approach and today the Millennials are the biggest drivers of our network which helped us gain momentum and scale rapidly to other metros. After the initial hiccups this revelation wasn’t missed by marketers targeting the ‘heads down’ and averse to advertising generation. Over 80% of our revenue is generated from brands directly and the business mostly comes in after marketers have seen our displays themselves at these highly popular locations.

The scale of our network brought media uniformity which enables brands today to connect with the same audience through the same channel across the country at a click of a button with optimised content delivery and performance measurability the same way one would on mobile or web.

Working with modern marketers and leading internet brands we have been able to co-create award winning campaigns that have been non-intrusive and delightfully reach millions of urban millennials. There are brands like Vivo that have been working with us over a year with category exclusivity and have generated exceptional traction through our network with user-generated content that have amplified their social media assets by over 240%. 

Walk us through your initiatives to introduce networked DOOH media at the corporate parks.

A joint venture between Eyetalk Media Ventures and dRSTi Communications, our new network BizTalk is again a content first platform that enhances workplace experience and connects with over 30 million digitally driven, tech savvy professionals. Connected across premium commercial real estate of the country, BizTalk is the first and the biggest real time business network delivering Live Business and Technology News, Stocks, Forex, Flight Information Market Cap, Sport updates and Dining offers via TagTalk - content that a professional is most likely to engage with on their smartphones at their workplace.

At Eyetalk Media Ventures, we sell audience and not advertising space. Working class is the most priced audience that drives the economy, whether it’s a bank selling loans and cards to holiday packages, ecommerce or automobile industries. Every brand wants to reach out and connect with the highest disposable income group. As a touchpoint these business parks are highly valuable with highest dwell time, defined demographics and income groups. A brand investing in airport advertising to reach out to a business traveller 2-3 times a month can now also connect through our new network for a minimum of 20 days in a month. Though brands are already familiar with investing in these key properties through activation, standees, lift and food court branding we have just created a new automated, organised channel and consolidated this ecosystem by capturing over 50% prominent commercial real estate of the country.

With this strategic investment, Eyetalk Media Ventures consolidates two most critical urban touchpoints capturing the most priced audience. With both networks complementing each other, brands can now connect with urban Indian millennials 7 days a week -- at their workplaces 5 times a week and the same way at their favourite café’s where they hang out with their peers more than 2.3 times a week.

Where do you see your business in the next 3 years?

DOOH advertising is registering rapid growth in India's media landscape, it has reached Rs 1.5 billion and is poised to grow to Rs 5 billion to Rs 6 billion in the next five years, according to the Ficci-EY Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2019.

We built our foundation with TagTalk and got India ready for the next big thing. Seeing results specially in last one year we reinvested in infrastructure consolidating key urban ecosystems and capturing the most priced audience at a national level which today makes us not only one of the fastest growing DOOH media companies but also one of the biggest. With an estimated Rs 5-6 billion of revenue in the next couple of years, Digital OOH is likely to grow at 30%-35% and we want to be the main reason behind it by providing advertisers an infrastructure that connects urban India at a click of a button.

Already a programmatic first of the country, we wish to be the biggest and most advanced publisher for programmatic OOH in India and as an organisation we will continue to invest in technology and continue building consumer engagement platforms that benefit all key stakeholders – the ecosystem, audience and the advertiser.

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