NEW DELHI: The Indian OOH industry is facing the 'Kodak moment'. The industry’s big picture in the foreseeable future will be determined by developments like measurability of the media, digitisation of media assets, and knowledge sharing with advertising clients. Making this assertion in his keynote address at the 2nd exchange4media and network2media OOH Conference held in New Delhi on March 16, Chris O’Donnell, CEO, Asia Pacific, Kinetic, said he believed the Indian OOH industry has underperformed the overall media industry because of a certain reluctance to usher in new business practices.
O’Donnell cited the case of Kodak, which having invented the digital camera way back in 1975 kept the concept in the cold storage for fear of losing its film and processing business, only to be consumed by the digital wave years later. The Indian OOH industry will have to make the right choices as it builds the roadmap for the future, he asserted.
Focussing attention on digitisation of OOH media assets, O’Donnell said, industry research like eye-tracking studies show that digital media is likely to attract twice the number of eyeballs than static displays do, and command double the attention span. “Of course, this would also depend upon factors like the time of day, but the flexibility that digital media offers lends itself to better results”, he said, adding that China has taken a big lead in promoting digital OOH. O’Donnell said that Kinetic would consider making digital investments at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Speaking about the need for a common currency for the Indian OOH industry, O’Donnell said that research outcomes have proved that countries like the UK and Australia where OOH media metrics have been widely adopted are witness to the OOH industry outperforming the rest of media, whereas in markets like India and China, in the absence of a common currency, the OOH industry is lagging the rest of media.
O’Donnell underscored the need for more research in the Indian market, which will result in higher industry performance, as seen in the developed markets. “It is not enough to be able to negotiate with vendors. The industry’s focus should be on creating more value for the clients”, he said.
In the interactive session that followed, responding to questions posed by Ajay Kakar, CMO, Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group, O’Donnell said the Indian outdoor industry is not about ‘billboard people’ alone. OOH, by definition, stands for media that can be consumed by people on the move in different cities, and at different times of day. He said that with increasing mobile penetration in the Indian market, it would be wise to leverage the mobile to strengthen the outdoor offerings.
He reckoned that the Indian OOH industry is under-valued because of lack of measurement metrics in the business. “Prices are driven down as there is no common currency, no standard benchmark. Previous year’s prices are used as reference points in many cases. With measurability, the Indian OOH share of ad revenue can go up to 9-10 percent”, he said.
He observed that superior standards and quality of service will drive up prices and induce the industry to make higher investments.
Responding to a query on WPP, he explained that the group operates in India with multiple agencies in a “cooperative and collaborative” manner. India is not just a country but a region, hence this approach, he added.
On a larger plane, he urged the Indian OOH leaders to “think what is possible”.
Earlier, Anurag Batra, chairman and editor-in-chief, exchange4media, in his opening remarks said, that the Indian OOH industry would do well to focus upon three imperatives: measurability of the media, talent management, and digital integration.
The opening remarks and the keynote address set the tone for the panel discussions that followed at the conference.