Bhawana Anand, New Delhi
Elections are always quoted as one of the most lucrative times for OOH industry for being the most approachable and larger than life medium for the political parties. This has in a way conditioned the outdoor medium to accept the presence of this category. This year too was no different. 2017 year which began with the state elections in some of the major OOH oriented cities like UP & Punjab has surely brought moolah to the industry. Not only political parties but the marketers seem to have mastered the art of planning and timing their campaigns in line with this new reality.
Moreover, this year, with so much amalgamation that happened on the political ground gave a lot more reasons to the parties to emphazise on advertising to publicise their new alliances with huge consideration. While calculating this year's political scenario, the outdoor sector has seen an increased demand within the current election-heavy environment, which in turn has led to shortage in inventory for corporate players. Since most cities have banned posters that were stuck on the walls etc., billboard remains the only viable option, which not only is cost effective but also promises reach.
Over the decades, the political parties which excel in making long-term proposals for their parties have learnt the art of OOH media planning as well. This election saw an interesting change in their campaigns i.e. Strategic Media Planning & Buying through outdoor specialized agencies. The one key change that has observed this time around, is the strategic approach to outdoor advertising seems to have been undertaken by political parties. From performance tracking of advertisements to a more targeted approach towards hoarding placements, this shift in the mindset is a welcoming change. Their media mix which only used to be constrained till hoardings and billboards has included some more formats. While billboards formed a significant part of the mix there were encouraging signs of transit media and even digital screen used in the interiors.
Wherein election time gears up political parties and keeps them on their toes brings the crisis time for other marketers because of zero availability on OOH. However, the scenario wasn't alike this time. The sites availability didn't reach to such higher level. While pointing out reasons, primarily it can easily be attributed to the impact demonetization had and visibly still has; wherein a significant percentage of planned campaigns were either shelved or held back. Predominantly among those being from the real estate and fast moving consumer goods categories. Out of home industry insiders maintain that the effect hasn't weaned off completely, and opine that normalcy is still a few weeks if not months away. The other reason could be attributed to the historic aversion to full-fledged out of home advertising by brands and marketers during an election period, for reasons that are more than obvious. Small towns also saw a sizeable use of Out of home media. Auto booming was an important media used along with billboards in these towns.
On the contrary, there were a bunch of brands which leveraged this tenure and News Channels stand tall in this list. With their special shows and opinion polls lined up for elections, the tussle starts amongst news channels as well to be the best and fastest. And to garner the viewership, the channels bring out their fight on OOH medium. However, other visible categories during this time were mobile handsets, automobiles; FMCG and financial advertising.
The above insights are shared by Fabian Cowan, President, Posterscope.