NEW DELHI: Transit media is growing at a fast clip in the major metros with public transportation becoming more commuter-friendly and sophisticated. Mumbai leads the way with an estimated 83 percent of the city's population travelling by public transport, of which an estimated 48 lakh commute by buses, spending an average 28 minutes on board each day. The large captive audience on these buses has made a compelling case for inside-bus digital OOH content and advertising.
Mumbai-based tech solutions firm Equifone Solutions Pvt Ltd has seized the opportunity to leverage this transit media opportunity by setting up it own interactive TV network inside BEST buses, having won a contract from the transport undertaking to install digital screens inside 120 buses that include 20 AC buses. Equifone Solutions is not alone in this space but is hopeful of rapidly expanding its interactive TV network inside BEST buses with engaging content that builds audience for OOH advertising. The company has partnered Realtime Interactive Media, a Mumbai-based mobile out-of-home media company, to develop content for the network as well as execute the airtime sales. Realtime Interactive in turn is providing this service under the brand 'I - Mumbai TV'.
Anil Peswani, founder and director, Equifone Solutions, told network2media that the company is looking to expand its network to cover 4,000 BEST buses in the next 18-24 months. It won the contract from BEST in 2009, but spent six months on mapping the market before laying out the network in February this year. The network was launched in May covering 100 buses.
When asked if his company would be able to stave off competition from other players in the segment like BEST TV, Peswani said that Equifone Solutions is focused on delivering interactive content on the digital screens that will act as the differentiator. He did not rule out the possibility of multiple networks on BEST buses in time to come, as Equifone Solutions builds its network and coverage. He also said that his company has installed relatively large 22" x 20" LCD screens that are visible to 80 percent of the passengers on board.
Peswani said that Equifone Solutions has fitted the buses with GPS, GPRS and Bluetooth connectivity. This would be particularly useful to passengers on board AC buses who could use their laptops and mobile devices while travelling. Equifone Solutions is also planning to expand its transit media footprint in other cities in due course.
Realtime Interactive Media has developed round-the-clock infotainment and edutainment content for the 'I - Mumbai TV' network that in technical parlance is described as visual interactive transit entertainment system. The network features a wide range of programmes that include horoscope, numerology and palmistry by Bejan Daruwala, recipes and cooking tips by Tarla Dalal, POGO's award winning show 'M.A.D.', latest film reviews, Bollywood gossips and trivia by Komal Nathata, and Zee24 Taas for live news.
The channel also lends itself to information on vacancies, classifieds, geographic mapping, local offers and emergency numbers, besides special application on local search of utilities, BEST routes and fares, brand information, and so on.
Commenting on the OOH advertising opportunity, Kaushik Tanna, managing director, Realtime Interactive, told network2media that with GPS advertisers will be able to pick and choose the locations for airing their spots. This would be particularly useful to small advertisers with limited budget.
Besides, with Bluetooth connectivity, Realtime Interactive is able to engage the youth with downloadable interactive games. Classified advertising has been a big hit with the audience. "People have even advertised sale of their used bikes," said Tanna.
The network is not allowed to use sound. Tanna said that this is not an impediment as sound tends to disturb commuters, especially those in AC buses who would use the travel time to catch up with work. "We are focused on delivering visual treat," said Tanna. I - Mumbai TV also gives passengers the opportunity to download on their mobiles, topics displayed on the TV screen.
The positive audience response to the network builds a strong case for similar initiatives in all other metros and cities.