Co-founder and CEO
The Social Street
Known as one of the best brains in outdoor and experiential advertising and marketing in India, Mandeep Malhotra is Co-founder and CEO of The Social Street. With a Master's in Business Advertising from Australia, Malhotra has almost 20 years of professional experience in outdoor media. Prior to his stint as President, DDB Mudra and Head of MudraMax, he has worked with Ogilvy & Mather, Rediffusion DY&R and Bates India amongst others.
In a candid conversation with allaboutoutdoor, Malhotra, shares his views on the media industry in India, the challenges faced by an agency and more.
Excerpts from the interview are as follows:
How was 2017 as a business year for the OOH industry? Did you witness any new trend followed by some agency, advertiser or media owner?
2017 was an average year. I don't think the industry bled as it has recovered from the two big blows in the same financial year. I strongly feel media acquisition for pride stopped and only sensible tenders were bid for or awarded. It will be interesting to see Indian Railways monetizing their Asset base.
Have you seen a shift in client's perception when it comes to OOH?
Yes, there has been a huge shift in the belief and mindset of clients. Especially the practitioners and avid consumers of OOH from the past. Beverages / telecom for e.g. were some avid users and at that time constituted 40 percent of market, it has now reduced to 2-3 percent today. They are obviously facing their own business challenges since OOH isn't their first choice anymore.
What is your current market share in the overall OOH industry? What is Social Street's turnover and the company's projected growth?
I won't know the exact numbers as it's not a published data, but we would be in the top 5 for sure. I know companies shy away from sharing this data, and I have no holding groups to seek permission to share numbers, but we should be close 250CR+ this year. We are very bullish on our desire to grow. Hopefully at least 30 percent this year too.
How flexible should an agency be while doing business? Should an agency change its approach looking at the size of the client?
This is like asking how flexible you need to be while doing yoga. The business play area is very dynamic. I remember in my last stint we had restricted approvals of clients having no credit verification, and later they turned out to be one of the largest users of OOH over the following 2-3 years. I guess it's the most fertile time to follow your gut to decide which client or category you want to work with and what format of relationship you want to hold. I am loving it :)
OOH industry is rushing towards metrics, data and numbers like different agencies are investing in bringing their own tools. Do you see these means bringing any difference to the industry or agencies?
Till it is not a common currency all agencies will have their opinions and versions of justifying their buys. The key is always going to be unity in the industry. It may be a high entry cost to come together but in the long run it will be very beneficial for the industry.
What are your predictions for 2018 with regards to the OOH industry? Do you see any new trend catching up?
2018 will be the best year so far for The Social Street and I'm assuming the industry also. Motivation levels and the desire to get 1 bumper crop this year will change a lot of things. I'm very optimistic about 2018 in general.
What are your plans for 2018 with regard to The Social Street? Is there anything big in the pipeline?
The year has just started. We want to be heavy on OOH. Tech and asset business sounds encouraging. The board has approved fresher and newer business models. Hoping to be able to have them live by year end.
Interview by: Aarti Pahwa
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