Industry Speak

Karan Shroff

Vice President Marketing

OOH- An important part of the overall media mix

"OOH has helped the brand in reaching out to a larger offline audience which includes commuters like students, parents, and educators who leave their homes to reach their educational institutions or exam halls."
January, 2020

allaboutoutdoor.com interviewed Karan Shroff, Vice President Marketing at Unacademy to understand how OOH media has played a major role in accomplishing their goals.

Excerpts from the interview are as follows:

What was the objective of the #Let'sCrackIt OOH campaign?

The "Let's Crack It" campaign was launched to encourage students and help them prepare for challenging entrance exams without getting demotivated or disheartened. The campaign is focused on students with the idea to support them throughout their academic journey by connecting them with the best possible educators and to provide them with relevant content to crack desired examinations. It also highlights that Unacademy is a constant partner for any student who aspires to learn, irrespective of their location as one can access the platform from any remote location using a device/smartphone with an internet connection. Apart from it being a colloquial expression Let's Crack It, lays emphasis on the "let's" part of the catchphrase. This is because, Unacademy's aim is to democratize education and not have differential pricing or ranks/marks based batches.

While the campaign is a 360-degree marketing initiative, OOH is an important part of the overall media mix. With OOH the objective is to target all existing as well as potential learners across the country as well as parents and other family members who influence decision making of students.

What was the brief given to the OOH specialist firm for the campaign rollout? Has the OOH campaign helped to build greater brand awareness?

The brief given to the OOH specialist firm was to target areas that are visited the most by young students. Therefore, we targeted hang out spots for the youth such as college campuses, bus shelters, etc. We also made sure that the campaign is visible at places and areas where students stay, such as hostels and PGs or places where they go to hang out after college.

The campaign has definitely helped us build a stronger connection and top of mind recall among existing and potential students. It has also helped the brand in reaching out to a larger offline audience which includes students, parents and educators.

We have received extremely optimistic responses for the OOH campaigns in smaller towns and for the same we have an extensive presence and reach in student hub cities across the country.

What does Unacademy wish to achieve from this campaign from a business standpoint?

Our main aim is to create awareness about Unacademy's offerings and partner with students in their academic journey to help them prepare for all kinds of examinations and motivate them to move closer to their dreams. The campaign is also a tribute to celebrate the undying spirit and hard work with which students prepare for exams. Through this campaign, our goal is to become a household name when it comes to higher education and learning in India.

Also, through the "Let's Crack It" campaign we have seen an increase in our brand awareness.

What role has OOH played in influencing customer choice and how are you engaging with them to stay on top?

‘Let's crack it' is a 360-degree campaign including multiple mediums/platforms such as TV, digital, outdoor, radio, cinema, and print. Spread across various mediums, there is a significant weightage given to OOH in the overall marketing mix. This has helped the brand in reaching out to a larger offline audience which includes commuters like students, parents, and educators who leave their homes to reach their educational institutions or exam halls.

In order to sustain the momentum, we will be working on other initiatives and campaigns in 2020 to build a greater connect with learners across the nation.

Who do you see as your biggest competition?

Instead of competitors, we would rather focus on our differentiators that set us apart from other players in the ed-tech space. Our network of India's top educators, ably complemented by our product with a superior interactive live class experience are amongst several other features is something that makes us stand apart from the crowd. The innovativeness of the platform is its simplicity and the ease to operate by anyone anywhere across the country. We are part of the journey of every aspirant right from the time they decide to take up an exam as we provide them with structured courses, live classes, discussions, help them evaluate themselves through preparatory mock tests. Unacademy provides an end-to-end solution to crack competitive exams in more than 30 categories and provides a personalized experience by utilizing the aspirant's preferences and performance and sharing customised suggestions for lessons, classes, and tests. The aim is to support the aspirants and enable them to achieve their goals.

Which platforms are you prioritizing for the next 12 to 18 months?

We are looking at television followed by OTT and digital platforms as they are well accepted across the top cities of the country. However, TV dominates in Tier-2, Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities, where students are more focussed on growth and success due to lack of ample opportunities. A number of our students come from the top cities and hence, we consider the digital approach to be the most essential in these cities, followed by OOH, print, radio, and cinema. We have taken up OOH campaigns, especially in smaller towns. Additionally, we use cinema as one of our platforms as these students in smaller towns visit cinema halls/movie theatres very often.

What are some of the biggest OOH media lessons you've learned during the past couple of years?

OOH is a very valuable medium and works as a catalyst to other media such as TV, digital, etc. where you watch the commercial at home, step out and see the same messaging again. It aids in creating top of the mind recall for the campaign along with brand building, making it a very valuable medium. This can be done by keeping them either close to POS(point of sale) or in areas frequented by relevant audiences. Hence, we have learned to support our TV campaigns with OOH. There is also a strong connection between a planned OOH campaign and social media buzz and with people spending a chunk of their time commuting, OOH campaigns can help reach a wider audience. Additionally, with everything slowly moving towards digital, the concept of the DOOH campaign has been trending and is said to be more engaging for the audience than a traditional OOH campaign.

For Unacademy's ‘Let's crack it' campaign, we used OOH as well to create awareness. Among various OOH displays, we also used a simple 3D and in-lit text - ‘Let's crack it'. Through this, we were able to ensure that our message delivery was clear and uncluttered and it helped us gain good traction on the campaign. We also targeted high footfall areas such as markets, colleges, bus shelters, shopping centers & traffic signals that helped us reach a much wider target audience.

5 OOH trends to watch in the next five years

Last year has witnessed an immense growth of OOH platforms in the market, wherein several integrated campaigns could be seen gaining popularity. This came with a better sense of comparability with other media such as TV, print and digital. We believe that some of the OOH trends that will dominate the ad-tech space in the upcoming years are:

• Better and more focussed reach
Unlike the conventional approach, OOH in the coming years is expected to function better in reaching the right target audience at the right time. With technology evolving every day, we'd be able to refine and reach the consumer with more accuracy, making it the future of OOH campaigns.

• Digital integration in OOH
Out-of-home advertising is slowing expected to transform to digital-out-of-home advertising, signs of which can be already seen. With research and social media becoming more expensive, the programmatic set is further expected to transform DOOH, wherein, buying and selling of products/services would become automated.

• Scalability in technology
Technological advancement has impacted the OOH platform greatly and will continue to impact in terms of open collaboration, ad exchange development and use of location data.

• Increased personalisation
With customers looking for more personalisation and immersive engagement, brands are expecting to identify this and enhance their impact in public spaces through OOH and other digital OOH partnerships.

Interview by: Aarti Pahwa

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