Bhawana Anand, New Delhi
Chennai city is coming upwards in the charts of OOH industry. With the new display oppurtunities and standardised media, the citys outlook and outdoor concessionnaires, both are getting advanatges of the improving scenario. Launched last year, Chennnai Metro Rail Ltd is considered to be the only format so far which has given a new ray of hope to the regional advertising association. Where, various outdoor format owning companies saw the dream of reaping the benefits of this most soughted format, Mark Mark won the tender and monopolised by acquiring the rights of all 32 Chennai Metro Stations.
Different kinds of display opportunties available for branding inside the Metro Station, Entry & Exit Point and Concourse level & Platform level opened a prospect to attract various categories of brands. However on the same time, acquring, constructing, managing & finally selling is quite a task. To know the in & out story of Mark Metro & its assocation with this new venture, Allaboutoutdoor.com got into the conversation with R. Anandakrishnan, Managing Partner, Mark Metro.
How significant is metro media in Chennai OOH market? What percentage of budget goes to Metro or to overall transit media in Chennai?
Chennai being a 'Hoarding free' city, with very few small sized hoardings scattered around the city, has sparse visibility in terms of eyeballs. With the advent of Metro stations, and with the increase in foot falls into these stations, our media is viewed approximately by 50000commuters a day with consistent increase month after month.
Our captive target audience is constantly surrounded by the brand for a minimum of 10-15 minutes.
High brand recall as more of the commuting passengers are regulars (office goers, Business peoples, college students) as well as family crowd that travels to the malls and multiplexes (as of now in Vadapalani), travellers to Chennai Airport and people travelling to other cities from CMBT.
2) You have varied variety of media installed inside. What R&D was done before placing the media?
Our objective was to be present in every location where the commuter travels within the station and recces were done many times to identify the strategic spots to fulfil our criteria. After R&D, we recognised high-visibility spots like ticketing counters, atop escalators, lift doors, entry and exit, platform area, security check area etc., where a commuter's presence is mandatory. This way the product advertised cannot be missed by anyone.
3) An International player is also part of the same project. What sort of competition are you facing? How do you compete with it?
We don't consider them as our competitor as the media they have taken is train branding which is mobile, whereas we have static media with an added advantage of exclusive/sole rights to branding entire stations both interior and exterior.
We enjoy the monopoly status in all stations as closure of deals and execution of work is faster and smoother.
Also, the deterrent factor to the client is the printing cost for the entire train which is exorbitant. Our media is cost effective and can accommodate all kinds of budgets, from lower range to the upper limit. On a train branding while only one client can advertise, we can have multiple clients at the same time.
4) In Delhi which got 1st metro outdoor project has always stated that the entire project of advertising should be awarded to one media owner to operate it beneficially. And you have got the project in bulk. Do you see any benefit in having a property in bulk?
Yes, we do agree with the former part of your statement.
There are surely ample advantages of one media owning firm taking care of the entire media. We have an exclusive monopoly right which leads to scope for negotiation pretty less as quotes from different media owners don't reach the client for comparison. Since it is one point contact, possibility of closing the deal with client becomes easier smoother. Also, in a monopoly system, the quality of media and the materials used are uniform and are aesthetically crafted and well positioned in each area inside the station.
5) Your company has largely dealt with traditional media. This is your 1st encounter with transit. What made you to take this new format? How much money have you invested in it starting from tender money till building the media?
Transit media, may be, the first project for Mark Metro but our group has been handling bus station banding, railway station branding etc., for the past 10 years and so. Ideally transit sector is not a new path for us to encounter. Our group still owns branding rights to the sub-urban and MRTS railway stations in Chennai.
Our expertise, know-how and success in transit media field has given us the confidence to take up this platform as well. Investment of money is highly confidential and we refrain from disclosing this to anyone.
6) If we comparison traditional media v/s transit media. Which one is more profitable in terms of revenue, occupancy and brand's response in a city like Chennai where budgets are limited?
Chennai has limited traditional media options. Few traditional media that still exist for the past 8 to 9 years are Bus Shelters, Bus Back Panels and Railway Station. Though, the Apex Court has ordered to remove all hoardings but this media is mushrooming every now and then, with no guarantee to our clients' display, thus causing inconvenience and discomfort to the impact of a client's brand.
The court and municipal corporation are taking stringent actions to eradicate the illegal hoardings and very soon necessary steps will be taken to ensure removal of the same. Hence, when it comes to Chennai, there is no room for comparison between traditional and transit media.
Initially (close to 10 years since hoarding ban) clients were reluctant to spend money on other outdoor media. However, now they are aware of the Chennai scenario and have tasted the fruits of benefit through transit and media other than hoardings.
It is the agencies that create wrong perception among their clientele on traditional media being most effective as compared to the transit media. We have been getting consistent business from our direct corporate clients as well as local clients for our various transit media and 80% our various legal media are occupied at any given point in time. The very fact that we always participate in tender and are successful in acquiring transit media year after year goes to prove that, if marketed strategically as per the objective of the clients, it's a great revenue generating platform.
7) Initially you have got a reputed brand ITC on board. What relevance brought ITC on Chennai Metro? Could you share the amount invested by them in metro?
Prior taking up the metro media, ITC Group did a detailed study on ROI, footfalls, did recces etc., and once they got satisfactory results and found it great platform to advertise their various brands; they confirmed the same and have taken all 7 stations. This shows that a major client like ITC has confidence in the transit media as it allows them in reaching out to immeasurable captive audience inside the metro stations.
8) Could you share the amount a brand needs to invest to have a good exposure at your metro media?
A budget of Rs.7 Lakhs to Rs.8 Lakhs a month will give a decent exposure in our stations for a minimum period of 3 months.
9) What categories of brands are approaching for metro media? Are you also getting any local player on board?
Tamil Nadu based 'Karur Vysya Bank' has taken up exclusive branding in 2 stations for a period of 3 months and One of the leading Gingelly oil company, 'Idhayam' (Gingelly oil/Pappad etc.,) has taken exclusive branding in Vadapalani Station for a period of three months. Very soon we are expecting a major mobile brand, Insurance Company and few local clients to confirm their display in the stations.
10) How are you planning to expand the metro media?
We have plans and are working towards expanding our display area and the discussion on this is underway. No concrete decision has been taken as yet.