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'We will see new advertisers using OOH medium'

By M4G Bureau - July 22, 2014

In May this year Pakistan Advertisers Society (PAS) exclusively endorsed Measuring OOH Visibility & Exposure (MOVE), a Pakistan-based media marketing and research company, to develop and launch an OOH audience and ratings currency in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Qamar Abbas, Executive Director, Pakistan Advertisers Society (PAS), talks about the new initiative in conversation with Rajiv Raghunath of Outdoor Asia. Abbas as over 15 years of professional experience with proven track record in setting up new ventures, securing profitable growth, establishing new streams of revenue and regulatory policy making. He has had a hand in executing some of the milestone media initiatives in Pakistan like Television Audience Measurement, Consumer Multimedia Index and the industry's most prestigious Advertising Effectiveness Awards. Edited excerpts of the interview:

What factors have contributed to Pakistan Advertisers Society's decision to promote the development and launch of an OOH audience and ratings currency? What kind of formats will be covered?

The OOH industry in Pakistan has been growing at a rapid pace but it is unregulated and characterised by highly fragmented ownership. The industry has also been lacking quality research and measurements metrics. Hence, there was a dire need to classify and measure this medium.

To begin with, only hoardings / billboards will be measured as most of the investments (71 per cent) go into these formats.

Please throw some light on the composition of the Outdoor Audience Measurement Technical Committee (OAMTC) that is spearheading this initiative.

The OAMTC was formed by PAS. Other than advertisers, it has outdoor media agencies and outdoor media owners on board. The committee includes 19 advertisers (PAS Members and Non-Members), five media agencies (Kinetic, GroupM, Starcom, Adsells & Core Media), three media owners (3 representatives from Sindh Outdoor Advertising Association (SOAA) - Regional) and two other major media owners from other parts of the country.

As we don't have an association of media agencies, we invited the top media buying houses to be part of the committee. As for media owners, there is no single body that represents all the media owners nationally. So, we invited SOAA (a regional body) and two big media owners from other regions to be part of OAMTC.  So, OAMTC is a kind of Joint Industry Committee for OOH Audience and Rating System.

I would also like to point out that this committee has the biggest representation from advertisers that has been formed by PAS for any research initiative. This shows how important this research is for advertisers.

As regards the funding of this project, what is the net contribution of media owning firms, advertisers and specialist agencies in percentage terms?

MOVE will charge a subscription fee on the Primary Users (generally advertisers) at 3 per cent of their respective annual OOH advertising spend. The Primary User Licensee shall then deduct at source the subscription fee based on the following allocation by the primary user licensee:
  • Outdoor Media Owners:     2.5 per cent of their invoice
  • Outdoor Media Agencies:   0.25 per cent of their invoice
  • Advertisers:                            0.25 per cent of their annual outdoor spend

Such an allocation by the Primary User Licensees shall provide'Affiliate User' status and access to the media agencies and media owners contracted by the advertiser. 

In the case of any media agency or media owner subscribing to the "service” in an individual capacity, they will be treated as the Primary User and will incur the full licensee fee of 3 per cent of their estimated annual OOH advertising spend.  Such a Primary User License to media owners or media agencies will entitle the designated advertisers and agencies in the case of the former, or the designated advertisers and the media vendors in the case of the latter, to'Affiliate User' status and access.

Thus, the industry as a whole will be charged not more than 3 per cent of the total OOH annual spend. 

Advertiser/Outdoor Media Agency who are Primary Users and their "Affiliate Users” shall receive:
  • Panel-by-panel classification data and mapping facility including geo-codes to be fully available to the industry as part of standard reports.
  • Panel-by-panel audience ratings data market-by-market by demo updated bi-annually.
  • Optional: Industry accepted (TPP format) standard final data and associated models for advertisers/agencies with their own reporting and analytic systems as required.  This facility will be provided in lieu of Quantum. A minimum annual cost of such optional TPP data and support services shall be charged by MOVE.
  • Telmar's Quantum OOH suite of reporting, analytic and planning tools.
  • 3 Telmar logins per Primary User Licensee (assignable to the Primary User Licensee's Affiliate Users).
  • Additional Telmar logins available as required at a cost not to exceed ~$1,000 per annum.
  • Comprehensive coaching programme on using the new OOH audience currency and Quantum.

The media owners shall receive:
  • Panel-by-panel classification data and mapping facility including geo-codes to be fully available to the industry as part of standard reports.
  • Aggregate "benchmark” audience data across all owned and classified panels.
  • Coaching on the new OOH audience currency, reporting and analytic system.

Very few OOH industries around the world have successfully adopted a common currency for the medium? Have you modeled your initiative on any particular OOH common currency developed in overseas markets like the US, the US, Australia, etc.?

We are not following any particular international model as our market is very unique with some challenges, and keeping these in view, we feel that to successfully implement this system, it has to be driven by the advertisers, not only in terms of subscription collection, but also in terms of adopting this as a currency. I feel it will not be an easy task, but if the advertisers are committed, we can achieve it.

In terms of funding mechanism also, our approach is very different. Although the subscription model is what is generally practiced in such currencies across other markets, PAS or OAMTC is not guaranteeing any upfront financial commitments to the research provider. So, this is MOVE's business venture. Saying this, we have strict controls in place that will ensure the reliability and credibility of the data as well ensuring that the industry is not charged egregiously and the service is expanded in terms of geography, formats and technology in the years to come.

How far has your initiative progressed since its announcement by PAS?

MOVE, our research provider, is working on the data collection side. This includes research data, traffic counts -- both by cameras and satellite imagery, plus site classification data. Their international partner Cuende is working on system construction as of now. The data once completed will be fed into a software called Quantum provided by Telmar. According to current targets, the entire process will be completed within six months.

Measuring OOH Visibility & Exposure (MOVE) that has taken up this project has tied up with international partners -- Cuende Infometrics (in association with Telmar), TNS and Digital Globe. What would be the particular roles of the international partners?

Cuende is providing research along with data management, Telemar is providing the software for planning and measurement, Digital Globe is providing digital imagery for traffic count, and TNS is Cuendes' global research partner, and in Pakistan TNS-Aftab is the field work partner doing travel survey and journey mapping, etc.

When do you expect the currency to come into effect? Do you plan to take the coverage beyond the four cities — Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi — in the future?

We are working to complete the project in six months, so the data will start coming in November-December 2014. The first three months will be the demonstration period after which if everything is as per the committee's satisfaction, it will be declared as an official currency. Once the currency stabilizes and we overcome the initial barriers, we will plan to expand the coverage.

What are the key challenges that you see in implementing the measurement metrics in Pakistan's OOH industry?

The key challenge is getting the media owners on board and convincing them on the utility of this currency and how it will help develop the OOH industry and bring in more investments. As for the technical issues, we have engaged expert consultant Mr Tony Jarvis who is helping us to establish a world class measurement system.

Do you think that a common currency will induce more brands to take the outdoor route to engage with consumers?

Oh yes, there is no doubt! After an initial price and spend adjustment period, as the confidence level on the effectiveness and delivery of this medium goes up, we will not only see new advertisers using this medium, but we will also see increased investments by the existing advertisers on this medium. Also, it will allow us to regularise the industry and set some benchmarks that in turn will increase the confidence level of advertisers in this medium.

Which are the dominant advertising categories on Pakistan's OOH landscape?

Unfortunately, we don't have the exact numbers, but some approximations are as follows:
  • Total spend: Rs 8 billion.
  • Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad constitute 70% of the spends. Top 5 metros constitute 85% of the spend.
  •  Hoardings take up 71% of the spend.
  • The telecom category constitutes the biggest spenders followed by FMCG companies like Unilever, P&G, beverage companies, confectioneries, etc. Also, in the summer season or just before it, textile companies spend large amount

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