industry body - the Indian Outdoor Advertising Association (IOAA) - has been formed to safeguard the interests of companies in the out of home (OOH) space. This is a proactive step taken by out of home companies for the purpose of lobbying with the government to create a uniform regulation to safeguard the interests of its constituents. The IOAA will also play a consultative role in preventing ad hoc decisions taken by local and state government bodies.
Primarily, the IOAA will act as a facilitator between local government bodies and the outdoor industry in order to create a friendly environment to solve various issues. Selvel Advertising, Jagran Engage, Times Innovative Media, Clear Channel, Prakash Arts and Laqshya Media will be the founding members of the IOAA, which has been registered as a not for profit company.
Noomi Mehta and Adille Sumariwalla
The announcement couldn't have come at a better time: India is grappling with a less than ideal outdoor industry in Delhi, while the proposed BMC guidelines, if implemented, are likely to hit outdoor companies in Mumbai in a major way. These two problems will be among the first addressed by the IOAA, as Mumbai and Delhi together form 40 per cent of the country's total OOH business.
The association will also concentrate on removing common perceptions detrimental to the outdoor business, like hoardings cause accidents. "Globally, it has been proven that no such thing happens," says Mehta.
There is also a misconception that there is a ban on hoardings in Delhi, when in fact, the government has only restricted objects that are 'obstructive' to human society. "This was misconstrued as a ban by those with vested interests, and we plan to clear such tainted pictures," Mehta adds.
The IOAA's immediate agenda will be to facilitate the fixing of jurisdiction over outdoor advertising at various levels (local administration and state governments). It will also associate with local bodies to ensure that the landscape of a city is intact, and that the industry follows environment-friendly business practices.
"Outdoor is a perfectly legal business, and by banning things every few months/years, the industry is very badly hit," says Adille Sumariwalla, CMD, Clear Channel Communications India. He cites a specific example: Two months ago in Hyderabad, a law was passed to remove LEDs, and all LEDs were taken off overnight.
"Each LED costs Rs 2-3 crore, and the very same government which approves them changes its mind the moment new people take over at the helm," says a disgruntled Sumariwalla.
Indrajit Sen, business head and COO, Jagran Engage, and vice-chairman, IOAA, says that outdoor has always been perceived as a fragmented and disorganised industry. "However, because of considerable shift in consumers' lifestyles and suburban growth, OOH is gaining ground," he says. Marketers are seeking solutions beyond traditional media, which is where OOH steps in.
The OOH industry is growing at 17 per cent CAGR and will be 10 per cent of total ad spend by 2010, he adds. At that point, the industry is expected to be valued at Rs 2,000 crore. Today, OOH is a Rs 1,200-crore industry in India.
The IOAA will be a common platform for the outdoor industry to take up issues besetting it at various government and non-government fora. The IOAA, with its office in Mumbai, will soon create its secretariat with a professional CEO at the helm. Its board of governors include Noomi Mehta (Selvel Advertising), Indrajit Sen (Jagran Engage), Alok Jalan (Laqshya Media), Farid Kureshi (Times Innovative Media), CDV Subba Rao (Prakash Arts) and Adille Sumariwala (Clear Channel Communications India).