Aarti Chhabra, New Delhi
The OOH industry is looking forward to a robust festive season, buoyed by a stable Government at the Centre and positive macroeconomic indicators. Sectors such as e-commerce, real estate, media & entertainment, consumer electronics, automobiles, banks & finance, apparel and jewellery, among others, are seen as active spenders on the OOH medium.
However, amid the positive sentiments of the festive season, marketers and OOH agencies are also keeping a sharp eye out for recessionary trends.
In this special feature, AllAboutOutdoor speaks to the leading honchos of the industry to understand the market sentiments this festive season as far as the OOH industry is concerned and where this industry is headed in the coming months. will be.
Sam Balsara, Chairman & Managing Director, Madison World
OOH will witness fresh growth in the coming months.
Sunder Hemrajani, MD, Times OOH
Brands had been conserving finances in Q1 of FY14. With the slow start, the skew will now definitely be upwards. The market has seen an upswing in the last couple of months. We are seeing a good September and October and hopefully will see good future months as well. There have been enquiries from the consumer durables, automobile and real estate sectors. Companies have realised that they cannot miss the festive season, and we expect business to pick up.
Mandeep Malhotra, Executive Director, DDB Mudra Group & President, DDB Mudra Max
OOH will see growth in towns beyond Mumbai and Delhi.
Pramod Bhandula, Executive Chairman, JCDecaux India
We are indeed optimistic about growth in the coming months. The entire market sentiments are already on an upswing. With the current Government showing good signs, it would not be wrong to say that ‘achche din’ are around.
Haresh Nayak, MD, Posterscope India
With the festive season at the threshold, I feel the Out Of Home industry surely will witness a bout of growth and wouldn’t be as damp. Although the recession bug keeps threatening, nonetheless the sentiment after the new Government having completed 100 days is positive, which surely will usher good news for the overall economy. I believe we surely won’t experience a slack period, even though vulnerability and volatility exist in the market.
Atul Shrivastava, COO, Laqshya Media Group
Business has definitely been growing over the past few weeks. Sectors such as e-commerce and real estate have been key spenders in OOH advertising of late, followed by media & entertainment, consumer electronics and automobiles. I anticipate a very good festive season for the outdoor media industry in both metros and smaller towns. Airports will also see higher occupancy over the next few months.
Abhijit Sengupta, CEO, OAP
I am not sure whether there’s a recession or whether it’s round the corner. It doesn’t seem so. The typical big brands that traditionally used OOH all these years might have stayed away or are holding back before they unleash. But otherwise this quarter has been better that the previous year’s Q2. There are many new users of OOH and that should lift the spirit up. Yes, I do see the market picking up, though it might be at a slower pace than what we would have liked it to be.
Pawan Bansal, COO, Jagran Solutions
We are indeed sensing a general optimism in the way the Indian economy is slated to perform – so the overall market outlook post the General Elections 2014 is pretty sanguine. Media spends, especially broadcast, is supposedly poised for a significant growth according to a major agency. Consequently, there is a very positive rub off on the outdoor space as well come this festive season. While advertisers have started showing keen interest in major metro markets, it is heartening to see demand in tier 2 and tier 3 markets as well. We are already noticing specific categories like M&E, automotive and FMCG firming up their plans to capitalise on the festive period. A high recall and surge in consumer pull is expected and there is probably no better media vehicle than OOH to be used. To use the oft quoted FMCG speak: ‘Jo Dikhta Hai Woh Bikta Hai’. Amen!
Hiyav Bajaj, Promoter, TDI International India Limited
Yes, it is true that recession continues to challenge us, but the Out Of Home industry can still come out as a winner in the coming months of festivity as there is already an increase in brand spending in comparison to the last quarter. Statista has projected a figure of Rs 24.8 billion for this year. Further, a FICCI-KPMG report 2014 projects a growth rate of 9.8 per cent, a figure which couldn’t even touch 6 per cent in 2013. A stable political situation in the country, unlike the last festive season, will be responsible for improving the sentiments today. We are also witnessing a marked increase of activity from brands as they move into the sales season and this is bound to reflect in OOH medium, which stays the best way to attract audiences on ground.
An article published in ‘Business Today’ magazine in January 2014 projected growth for many industries like IT, automobile, banking, oil and gas, consumer durables, capital goods, healthcare and telecom sectors in India this year, with which we are anticipating an increase in advertising spends too. Apart from this, the launch of some major products and services in India during the coming weeks, like the iPhone 6, Amazon Phone, 4G mobile internet services, etc., will also help the advertising industry overall. OOH being the vehicle for interactive product displays, we are considering them in the equation too. The trends point towards high brand spending by mobile phone brands and e-commerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. These two sectors have taken the markets by storm and the relevant brands are keen on holding top spots of visibility due to stiff competition.
Traditional airport advertising, in my view, will not be affected that much by recession as it is a premium platform for advertising, catering to a niche market of HNIs and decision makers. And as far as the DMRC media is concerned, campaigns targeting locally will still be able to provide high returns on investment for the brands. To conclude, I would say that advertising in India, as a whole, is looking at much brighter opportunities in 2014 than the previous years and we at TDI International, being in this field for almost three decades now, continue to look forward to playing our part in providing our clients with the visibility they aspire in every respect.
Rajneesh Bahl, CEO, Percept Out Of Home
Outdoor planning has seen a new revival in the recent past and positive sentiments around the festive season will only add to this. Clients have already started planning ahead for the ongoing and upcoming festive season. I am an optimist that this year, the festive season will see a lot more new brands in outdoor as compared to last year. Real estate, consumer durables and e-commerce will be the leading spenders during this season. Innovations would be the key to break clutter during this time as noise levels of various brands and products will be extremely high.
Sanjay Malkani, National Head, Mediascope Publicitas
The overall OOH industry works on supply and demand ratio and currently, media supply is much higher than the actual demand. However, during the festive season there is always growth in spends by various brands with new brand/ product launches or with various offers to woo the customers to spend more. The trend will continue and there would be growth in the overall OOH market, but it looks to be in spurts, and it has always been the last three months of year adding to the maximum numbers in sales/ revenues.
Sunjjoy Daadhicch, Director, Explomedia
Of course, corrections will happen, but focused buyers and focused sellers will beat the profit drums this season.
Yogesh Lakhani, CMD, Bright Outdoor
India’s purchasing power has improved immensely over the last 10 years or so. There is greater awareness among consumers, when we talk about festivals, customers are more selective about the products they purchase, and marketers are continuously trying to provide the best deals to current and potential customers and the best way to reach their customers is through OOH. As the disposable income of Indians across the nation is rising, firms need to keep up with their growing demands and more expensive tastes. It is obvious that OOH media isn’t going to become the market’s biggest player overnight. Also, there have been, and will always be, some fluctuations and uncertainty in the OOH advertising market due to several factors. An outdoor advertising agency plays a major role while providing branding solutions for any brand or business; needless to say, in this festival season brands want to connect with or reach their target audience locally and in a cost-effective way. OOH plays an important role in connecting brands and their target audience with a solution.
Alok Gupta, Director, Graphisads
As usual, the OOH industry has great expectations from the festive season. To add to festive season celebrations, we are also finding a lot of new queries coming up from new clients who have never explored the OOH medium. With buoyancy in the economy and a stable Government, we are sure that the festive season is here to stay for a longer time!
Sanjeev Gupta, MD, Global Advertisers
Yes, I expect robust growth in the months ahead. I base my faith on the innovative strategies with which we are responding to the challenge of the slowdown. Recession is paradoxically a time when a business requires advertising the most, but it is also a time of restricted cash-flow for most businesses. At Global, we have created flexible payment plans, cash-free packages and even offered complimentary billboards to our trusted clients so their marketing engines continue to run full throttle. I am happy to report that the advertising is helping these clients, and it is obviously also helping us. We can beat the recession with innovation. In fact, we are doing it.
Atin Gupta, MD, Atin OOH
For the last couple of years, the third and fourth financial quarters have witnessed significant growth as far as outdoor is concerned. I do not expect this year to be any different. There is definitely an improvement in sentiment and hopefully it should translate into business moving forward.
Shavinder Singh Sandhu, Director, LEAD ADS
The market has been slow May onwards, but I don’t see this bug for long. The market has picked up and the enquiries are aplenty now. Hopefully, we’d see a turnaround in the coming months and we see a good festive season.
James Varghese, COO, Adz Edge Communications
With the advent of modern mediums like digital, marketers today are under pressure to explore newer advertising platforms to reach out to their consumers and buyers. The number of advertising options is growing faster than the advertising budgets of brands. There is internet and mobile, there is application development and distribution, within internet there is search, social media and display advertising options, measuring the ROI to the last that penny. Certainly, there is uncertainty for the traditional good old OOH advertising business. Brand custodians have started to compare new and old options and the “hunger to do something new” drives more spend on the newer options, if not spends, their mind share for sure. However, hoardings and billboards have always been visibility and awareness offering advertising options, while digital advertising essentially captures buying/ purchase intent of the consumers. In other words, OOH compliments digital and other mediums and can be utilised more effectively with integration approach. During festivals, we have historically observed many brands getting active and we see a huge spike in spends. There is a huge scope of incremental business in the coming months from large brands and local advertisers.
Ajaz Memon, Managing Director, Network Media Solutions
With the stock markets hitting all-time highs and a new kind of optimism in the air, it’s highly unlikely that there will be any kind of recession in the market. There have been slowdowns in the past, but this year onward the OOH industry is set to boom like never before. Macroeconomic indicators are all looking positive, so large corporate would do well to keep aside an increasingly larger share of their budgets for outdoor advertising. All in all, this is a good time to be a part of the OOH market.
Ankur Kalra, CEO and Managing Director, Vibgyor Brand Services
Going by the trend in the last three months, there is nothing that indicates a period of recession. On the contrary, it is a wave of ‘Achche din aa gaye hain’ for the activation industry and markets across sectors. Brands are investing heavily in marketing budgets, with BTL featuring prominently on their list of mediums. They are looking for innovative, festive themed activation campaigns and budgets are certainly not holding them back. We are expecting this festive season to be bigger than any other in the last few years. There have been several on-ground campaigns for Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam. Based on the kind of briefs and plans that are coming to us, starting this Dussehra and leading right up to New Year, this year will see a surge of exciting campaigns.
Ankur Rastogi, Founder & Chief Strategist, Group AAO
Festivals are like the ‘dinner bell’ prompting consumers to consume more. This is not just true in India but worldwide. The festival season ensures the biggest spike. This is the best time when every brand wants to be connected with consumers. As we are in the business of building brands, festivals are a busy time. There is a significant change in the attitude towards advertising in the last few years. Earlier, it was need-based advertising: To announce a new product/ range, offers and discounts or achieve sales target during festive seasons. But over the last couple of years, clients are using OOH and other medium creatively and intelligently for brand building and image makeover.
Although the general mood in the industry is buoyant, there are some who sound a cautious note and are not very optimistic about the OOH industry being able to make the most of the festive season due to subdued spends.
Vijay Cavale, Director, Brand Connect Communications
What we are seeing is that signs are positive for a reasonable recovery in OOH in the second half of FY2014-15 , however the general long term perceived trend for OOH as an industry is flat and this has more to do with marketeers’ shift in terms of preferred media consumption. Marketeers today are spending more time and bucks on social media, digital and radio, and this trend will create some stagnation in OOH growth.
Kaushik Mitra, Chief Operating Officer - East, OAP
I doubt if there would be any upsurge for the OOH industry in the coming months. Due to Navratri and Durga Puja followed by Diwali, business would be steady in September and October. There would be a down trend immediately after Diwali as clients have slashed their budgets by half due to a slow market. During this time of the year, the retail market does well, but this year as the festive season is a bit early and the gap between the ‘sale’ period and the Pujas is not much, most of the people have done their shopping during the sale period.
Rahul Choudhary, Managing Partner & CEO, Greenline Sanscape
It is sad to see the industry in such a shape at this time of the year, especially in West Bengal, when usually all sites are booked 2-3 months prior to the festive season. I don’t feel the slowdown has hit us so bad that the clients have stopped spending. But yes, they have definitely reduced spends on outdoors and diverted spends towards activation, digital, social, etc. If you put together all spends excluding TV and print, that is what used to be spent on outdoors, but now it has gone elsewhere. Lastly, ‘achche din ayenge’ only if we change our approach in acquiring media and make it more pocket friendly to the clients and maintain uniformity. This will benefit not only the spender, but also the media owners.
Aman Chaudhary, Business Director, Media Supplements
The festive season has already begun with Ganpati celebrations in Mumbai and Onam down south. But ironically, the occupancies in OOH have not reacted very favourably. Barring the real estate, auto and market place portals, there are limited investments from other key categories. Telecom, media channels, banks, financial, retail, FMCG and consumption centric categories need to get active to be able to put the OOH industry in top gear. The valuations of market place portals (Flipkart/ Snapdeal) and rise of the stock market especially has been mainly sentiment driven so far. Discretionary spending is somehow remaining limited to discounted portals, but regular retail stores are yet to do well. With limited measurability (ROI) and lack of common currency in OOH, the main line media buyers/ marketing teams are putting in more focus on internet and mobile platforms at the cost of our fraternity’s earmarked budgets. In the ongoing scenario, we certainly don’t expect a replica of 2007-08, when every possible OOH unit would get booked at good rates, but I am hopeful that brands would come about live in another two weeks (coinciding with the onset of Navratras). I foresee a brighter Diwali than last year, but to sustain the growth, the economy needs to improve more and let there be fresh apex investments coming in from corporate clients.
Sudeep Ganguly, MD, Accord Advertising
The coming months will not witness any momentous growth in terms of OOH spends by the key players and will in all probability remain so until March 2015. Certain major OOH sponsors have either totally withdrawn or reduced spends to almost more than half of what it should have otherwise been, even during the most important and biggest festival season of the year in Eastern India, that is, Durga Puja in Kolkata. The recession bug is very much continuing, at least in OOH, and unless there is some major change in the thought process of the decision makers, this stalemate is going to continue for some more time.