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‘We’re creating novel screen experiences for advertisers & audiences’

By Bhawana Anand - March 23, 2020

Gautam Bhirani, Founder & MD of EyeTalk Media Ventures, dwells upon his company’s differentiated business approach, and crafting new advertising experiences

Gautam Bhirani, Founder & MD of EyeTalk Media VenturesEyeTalk Media Ventures through its two business verticals BizTalk and TagTalk has created unique digital screen networks that principally connect with young professionals with high disposable income – during their dwell time, either at the corporate offices during the weekdays or at entertainment hubs and hangout places on the weekends.

Gautam Bhirani, Founder & MD of EyeTalk Media Ventures, says his business is not the DOOH kind that advertisers are used to seeing in the markets. “We are a tech company looking to provide enhanced experience to the brands and audiences. Through advertising we monetise our media but our focus is on creating value for the asset owners and audiences. We have conceptualised a network for the future and I believe the future is now”. The company also earns from the software solutions and services provided to the host cafes and bars that have put up the screens to engage their customers with compelling content but are not wanting to manage the advertising on their media assets.

Unlike most DOOH networks that are in business today, EyeTalk Media Venture’s displays have a “mobile DNA”. Bridging gap between online and offline with the phygital network, the connected screens display location- and audience-specific content like user generated content with live social media channels, live news, stock exchange updates, forex updates, music playlists, point of sale offers, etc. “Ours is a thoughtfully curated digital network in an out of home environment bringing the best of offline and online worlds for both OOH and digital advertising industry,” says Gautam.

When asked if EyeTalk Media Ventures is pushing OOH to the periphery of business or that it is leaning heavily on mobile advertising, Gautam emphatically states, “We don’t think OOH is fading away or that we are competing with consumer experience on smartphones. Instead, we are creating a new screen experience that is akin to that of smartphones but importantly is not intrusive and connects in the real world context. Moreover, we are improving the numbers and acceptability of OOH, so ideally we are bringing money into the eco-system by growing OOH share.” In 2018, DOOH share of total OOH revenues was a mere 3%-5%. Today, DOOH’s percentage share is increasingly at an accelerated rate, and EyeTalk Media Ventures is understood to be contributing 30%-35% of the total DOOH revenues, cites Gautam.

Leveraging user-generated content for audience engagement has been a key success factor for EyeTalk Media Ventures, as brand advertisers are drawn to such environments. The audiences are able display their videos, photographs and similar content on the display screens, on the lines of how they are able to use a social media platform. “The idea was to make the heads-down generation look up and we did that by integrating content they create and consume on their smartphones,” says Gautam. There have been some 1.5 million organic posts on the screens which advertisers have taken note of. “Other than digital channels, most advertisers approach us directly after experiencing our network at different locations,” adds Gautam. Category advertisers like OTT, e-commerce, fashion, services and mobile handsets are the biggest spenders on this media.  

The other big factor influencing advertisers is that EyeTalk Media Ventures is able to target 90% of the target audiences all through the week. BigTalk network connect with the audiences on the weekdays in 75+ business hubs in over 210 towers and 100+ premium co-working spaces, whereas the TagTalk network running at top rated 450 cafes and pubs sees the audiences spending an average 2.3 days a week at those locations. ‘’One of the biggest challenges for a marketer has been reaching the same audience in multiple cities through the same channel and we are committed to creating such an infrastructure where brands could connect at such a scale at the click of a button with the most prized urban Indian audience.’’

“If a client spends 10 dollars with me, I know he can spend 25 dollars with me provided I have a bigger infrastructure. Hence, with both these networks, we have achieved the milestone of 1,500+ live displays backed by state-of-the-art digital infrastructure connecting with an unparalleled 3 million audiences a day across seven metros. Brands today are mapping the entire week of an urban Indian millennial and collaborating with us to reach out to them where they are spending most of their time, This is something which no other media owner has been able to offer,” points out Gautam. Advertisers are seen to be making optimum use of both networks by broadcasting their content as per day and time of the week which has never been seen before in OOH.

EyeTalk Media Ventures is also India’s first programmatic DOOH media company with its complete network integrated on Google DV360 and on programmatic ad-exchanges, such as, Lemma, Surfboard, Taggify etc. attracting major advertisers from the digital world. Some 80%-85% of revenues accrue from direct engagement with advertisers or through the ad exchanges and digital agencies. “Even though technology fueled digital transformation of OOH has been extensively discussed by senior industry leaders for a very long time, there was never any such infrastructure in the country which enticed brand custodians or agency leaders from mainlines. DOOH was always a part of the OOH ecosystem, often bought as a filler medium with slots running all day in a loop with other brands, but today we have been able to change that with our infrastructure by building a new digital channel for digital marketers which is doing same data-driven interactions with the consumer as mobile does,” explains Gautam, while pointing to the company’s business success.

In his view, OOH media planners and buyers have not got a measure of this media, and so only about 12%-15% of the company’s total revenues come through the conventional channels. “OOH advertising is expected to grow at 10%-12% year on year but if you analyse the reports it is DOOH which will be the key growth driver. A lot needs to change within the existing OOH ecosystem to use DOOH to its true potential and grow the OOH market share with its adaptation. In the present scenario I feel DOOH is not on the priority list which is why we get leftover budgets from campaign share which is an estimated 3%-5% of the overall OOH budgets. From acceptability, understanding dynamics of DOOH that is truly digital in nature to setting up specialist teams that can provide data-led performance driven solutions to clients, there is a lot of work OOH specialists need to do. There have been several cases where both OOH specialists and digital teams were pitching to the same client and the business was converted for us by the digital teams.”

Self-funded EyeTalk Media Ventures has grown from 75 displays to over 1,500 displays in a short span of 3 years and with 4x revenue growth in FY1 2019-20 by engaging and collaborating with some of leading mainline agencies and getting a share of clients’ mobile and digital marketing budgets, while making their network a part of the larger omnichannel media mix.

Looking into the future, Gautam believes that specialist agencies, ad exchanges and media owners would be called upon to be more collaborative in order to draw more spends to OOH.

EyeTalk Media Ventures is continuing to expand its business footprints in the major cities, and plans are afoot to leverage new opportunities that smart city projects offer. While, there are business opportunities in overseas markets, Gautam sees India as a big market for brands given the demographics of the country and internet connectivity. “We would like to continue building eco-systems that connect with the audience, solve problems for asset owners and drive performance-centred campaigns which are not hard to measure,” sums up Gautam.


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