Ambient Media Special

Unique media formats with un-conventional communication at unexpected places

18, June, 2015

Abhinav Mohapatra, allaboutoutdoor.com Bureau

The term ‘ambient advertising’ in the realm of OOH media came up almost two decades ago when advertisers and marketers wanted something different in their advertising. Born were unique media options in unexpected places with un-conventional communication and messaging, that became the defining factor for ambient media advertising. Corporate hubs, IT Parks, multiplexes, eateries, gyms, malls, healthcare clinics, airports, among a few others are considered as ambient media platforms where advertisers can execute off-beat and un-conventional advertising to engage their target audience. Allaboutoutdoor.com speaks to different ambient media owners and agencies to find out the potential of the media, advertiser’s preferences, future and the need for the ecosystem to accept and truly understand the different formats and optimal use.

Advertisers` preference and the need to understanding the medium for optimal use

Joseph Ramsey, COO, Jaguar Services believes that there has been an increase in the brand`s preference lean towards Ambient Media as today`s TG footfalls in Malls, Multiplex and Airports are on a high and there is a larger opportunity for the brands to be seen, touched and experienced before taking any buying decisions. “The Brands also have to now understand as how to optimally use ambient media to promote their brands understanding well as to what would make more walk-in to walk up to their promo stall/display and experience their brand. In the modern day dynamics, the buying behaviour is purely dependent on the experience that the brand offers, irrespective of the category. This can be credited to the high involvement nature of the consumer on overall aspects,” he adds.

Anuj Bhandari, Co-Founder and CEO, Group AAO, thinks differently, according to him there is no specific pattern or preference that advertisers have, it depends from campaign to campaign for the selection of media for advertising. “Ambient as such is a more economical and strategic platform for outdoor advertising as compared to traditional as well as give a better reach than outdoor sites. There is a definite need of educating the advertisers about the medium and its optimal use. There are a lot of advertisers who still do not know that different formats of advertising can be created and are available inside office complexes and marketers need to know how they can use this media,” he says. Bhandari also opines that marketers need to know that the medium is measurable, which is the general grievance while doing an OOH campaign. For example, a corporate park or an office complex has a fixed number of employees, one be sure that that specific number looks at the campaign that has been placed in the environment. Hence, one can measure the visibility.

Emraan Kureshi, Founder and Managing Director, Active Media Innovations, says that the clients need new solutions, they want more than just bus shelters and hoardings. “Advertisers want something different and new in their campaigns which will become the talking point or an eyeball driver to their outdoor media campaign. This media needs to be cost effective and a value for money proposition too. Also there is a need for advertisers to understand the platform, if you see the international market of America and UK, there outdoors have evolved to become an engaging and interactive media. Outdoor media in international market has become responsive as they respond to your calls, messages, tweets or facebook likes. Whereas, in India we have traditional flat billboards since so many decades and there is no evolution,” he adds.

Ketan N. Lakhani, Director, Orienta Advertising feels that both the medium are different. If you have a high end product then to get the right TG one needs to go for ambient media platforms like malls and multiplexes. “These platforms provide a good atmosphere, nice ambience, enough dwell time and it is a point where one can get a one stop solution. So for high end products advertisers usually prefer malls and multiplexes for mass they prefer traditional. There was a time when malls and multiplexes were not considered ass main media, now when they make a plan they by default include malls and multiplexes. There is a mix of everything that you get at these touch-points, one can consider a high end as well as a FMCG product,” he appends.

Traditional vs Ambient

Bhandari says that traditional is the most important part of the outdoor media plan and ambient compliments the same by being a recall medium. Ambient cannot be a medium used for creating only impact, for example a person looks at 10 billboards about a brand on the road when he travels to his office, on the road the billboards make an impression but does not register properly, on reaching the office complex if he looks at the same brand advertisement that he saw on the billboard earlier, it will act as a recall medium and hence register more firmly.

“The difference is between focus and mass medium, in the outdoor static form ROIs cannot be evaluated effectively whereas on the focus mediums, accountabilities or ROIs can be more effectively evaluated and monitored. This gives the brand a clear indication of the route that it has taken. Ambient medium can be geo targeted across the right socio cultural set up giving the exact communication connect for the brand and thereby taking the right route towards consumer engagement if not conversion or creation of loyalists,” adds Ramsey.

Interpretation and feasibility

“It is a media that surprises the audience; it is advertising at the place where the audience does not expect any media opportunity. I would not call malls as an ambient media per se since people expect ads and activations these days. Places like office complexes, eateries, gyms, health clinics are ambient since people never expect an advertisement to be present at such touch-points. The beauty of ambient media is that it can accommodate different budgets, an advertiser from an SME to an MNC can be provided with several media formats that suits the budget of the client. For example a local cab aggregator to a multinational e-commerce brand can take up this format,” says Bhandari

Kureshi feels that Ambient media takes the mind share of the spectators at any touch point in the outdoor environment. “The beauty of ambient media is you don`t have to invest huge money to buy the media, it saves a lot of capital expenditure on the media itself. The best part of ambient outdoor advertising is that it drives the PR buzz and can be further digitised online for going viral on social media. Its serves the purpose of giving a lot of content for online media that eventually can be seen as the extension of a campaign,” he appends.

Potential and future

Ramsey thinks that the consumer market is evolving at a very fast pace and strangely so by not following the traditional route or by following the ritualistic mode of expansion. Malls have become the new wholesale markets, multiplex the new club halls and meeting points. “Thus definitely the market is on an upscale and the rising FDI and faster exposure of numerous outlets across malls, it is an indicator of the transformation from conventional markets to non-ritualistic touch-points or Malls or multiplexes. Hence, you see a lot of activity and promos for launch of products across categories, be its cars or washing powder. This scale will only go up with the advent of the rural market which is growing at a tremendous rate in our economy. Thus giving us a larger market to explore and give our offerings for successful brand creation,” he adds.

Bhandari feels that ambient media is going to be the most important media format in the coming years. “I have seen how the acceptance of this media has increased in the last 2-3 years itself and if growing rapidly. As compared to traditional, where clients are sceptical about advertising since there are issues from the civic bodies, weather and vandalism, with ambient there is no such issue. Also, now the audience is mobile, connected digitally and moving away from traditional media formats like television and print, the audience is Out-of-Home and the touch-points also need to be present wherever the audience is. Hence, ambient media will take up a large chunk of advertising going forward.”

Kureshi has a different view, he feels that the traditional outdoor rates are increasing and the clients are having difficulty in investing in the medium. If the clients want a cost effective solution with the bottom line being communication, they will have to create visibility other than billboards. “If you see billboards are scattered here and there in the whole city, bus shelters are scattered too, this is where ambient media is effective since a single touch-point can talk directly,” he adds.

Lakhani says that multiplex is growing at 22.5 per cent and malls at 25 per cent in terms of advertising growth. If you see in Delhi NCR a mall is coming up known as mall of India, it is the biggest mall in Asia and people are actually trying to make this into a tourist attraction, hence the scope of growth is tremendous for mall advertising. Also a lot of mainstream agencies are opening their ambient media wings. Earlier main planners would make the plan including ambient media options, but now specialists are needed to make plans specific to this media. There are separate buyers, planners and strategy for ambient media,” he appends.