Industry welcomes the Indian Outdoor Survey

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News
Last updated : June 16, 2009
After extensive research, the much awaited Indian Outdoor Survey, better known as the IOS, has now been launched by Media Research User's Council (MRUC) and Hansa Research. This was launched at a seminar held in Mumbai and well attended by some of the biggest names in the outdoor industry

After extensive research, the much awaited Indian Outdoor Survey, better known as the IOS, has now been launched by Media Research User's Council (MRUC) and Hansa Research. This was launched at a seminar held in Mumbai and well attended by some of the biggest names in the outdoor industry.

What is the IOS?

The IOS is the first ever audience measurement system for outdoor media in India. It is the first syndicated study on the medium that will resolve some of the key concerns of advertisers, their agencies and the sellers of outdoor media.

The IOS is designed to provide audience led research at par with other media in order to establish traffic, cover and frequency estimates. It is a complete media planning and buying tool for the outdoor media that appraises outdoor sites with respect to their 'visibility' quality. IOS goes beyond measurement of 'visibility' and provides 'reach' for the selected sites as part of a campaign. It also allows planning of campaigns targeted to reach select 'audiences' at defined levels of exposure.

The IOS database capabilities aid in planning and buying of hoardings, bus shelters and kiosks. It provides an estimate of count of traffic by five different modes (two wheelers, three wheelers, bus, car/taxi and pedestrians) by stretch and an estimate of the traveling population and pedestrians present on the road stretch, and their profiles.

It offers, for the first time, comparison of outdoor with other media on reach, OTS, effective reach, effective OTS and costs /CPT.

Who benefits and how

The IOS will answer questions that an advertiser may have, like - is my brand getting due exposure for the monies being spent? What is the basis of the cost for a site? Is my agency delivering high quality and cost effective outdoor campaigns?

It will answer planner/buyers' questions such as what is the reach/OTS delivered by the outdoor campaign? Which alternative combination of sites will deliver comparative results? How do I speed up the cumbersome site selection process? How can I scientifically compare the effect of outdoor with print and TV plans?

For the planner, the IOS takes the drudgery out of the planning process by providing site census, with all site parameters provided in the database. It provides site photographs and site parameters by area. The site selection tool is flexible and allows one to select sites based on any of the site parameters such as size, illumination, angle, offset, obstruction, road and area.

It provides 'Plan Optimizer' and 'Plan Evaluator' to help in media planning and buying scientifically, where the latter allows six sites to be compared at a time.

Queries of media owners such as: how to add value to sites to beat competition? How to increase clients' budget on outdoor? How to drive up revenue per site? Where to put up new sites are also addressed. The IOS will help media owners drive up site revenue and will help market planning of inventory. They will be in a position to offer competitive CPTs vs. competition and also package sites to offer a value proposition to the advertiser/agency.


The IOS was an intensive and extensive project covering more than 70 site parameters (size, clutter, stoppages and illumination) for 4,500 sites across nearly 1,000 stretches of roads (IOS stretches) in Mumbai, collected and collated by 50 field executives over nine months. Also, nine months of traffic count was done, covering nearly 12 lakh data points using nearly 60 field executives. Following this, detailed journey information was collected by 80 people over 10 months from 4,500 respondents.

Sabina Solomon, general manager, MRUC, says, "It was a mammoth task, with extensive operations and work."

From trigonometry and geometry to statistical modeling, GIS, physics and cartography, and the latest technology, were used for data capture. Instruments used included range finder for measuring distances, binoculars for site dimensions, GPS meters for latitude/longitude measurements, digital, still and video cameras and equipment weighing nearly three kgs being carried around.

IOS challenges included high fragmentation, non-standard formats and sizes and site location where sites are located in some of the most inaccessible locations such as middle of slums and building tops.

Key Findings

An important finding was that outdoor reach is close to print reach, where reach of TV is the highest, followed by C&S, print and outdoor. Outdoor reach is comparable to that of print and is much higher than other media. While outdoor's reach is 66 per cent for print it is 67 per cent.

Based on gender, media reach is higher among males across media and the difference in reach is the highest in outdoor. Internet, cinema and print also show significant differences in penetration by gender. While the percentage of men that can be reached outdoors is 77 per cent, the same figure for women is only 50 per cent.

Based on age, media reach is higher among younger audiences and tapers off with age. Younger people can be targeted more through OOH as they are more on the move, similar to the target audience for radio and Internet. The decline in reach with increase in age is higher in radio, Internet and cinema. Outdoor's reach distribution is more even and is comparable to print.

All classes show more or less equal propensity to travel. Thus, outdoor is suitable for most of the classes. Compared to print, where more SEC As can be reached, outdoors can reach out to all SECs.

Also, working people and students travel more than the non-working, and affluent sections use more personal transport (cars and two wheelers) and travel on more stretches.

The study also identified opportunity areas. For example, nearly 200 stretches in Mumbai have bus-Q-shelters but no hoardings, and more than 400 stretches of the 960 have no hoardings at all.

Ashok Das, managing director, Hansa Research, shared his thoughts about the IOS, saying, "The study was commissioned in March 2004 and two years were spent in getting sponsors. So, for Mumbai, it's been 18 months from start for the study. This has by far been the most difficult study undertaken in the 30 years of research career in terms of complexities. In other countries, at least there is some uniformity in sizes and other aspects of sites, but in India everything goes - so this was more difficult to tackle."

First reactions and thoughts on the IOS

Kiran Vadodaria, chairperson and managing director, Sambhaav

There was always a need for research in outdoor. Though we haven't got a lot of details yet, I feel this study will help planners and advertisers plan their campaigns better and will help deliver value for money.

The new ad spend coming in after the lull will get bifurcated appropriately. Till now, spends were distributed on the whims and fancies of planners. The survey will aid in better distribution. A big finding, I thought, was the one that pointed out that the reach of outdoor is as high as print.

Nabendu Bhattacharyya, president, OgilvyAction India and IOS technical committee member

We've done 12-18 months of meetings, faced lots of obstacles and in the past 3-4 months, had meetings even 3-4 times a week. As a technical committee member, we helped define parameters and how relevant these are to the Indian market. We shared our experiences and helped with traffic count data and suggested what we thought was best.

The IOS is quite extensive, with a lot of brainwork involved. I feel it is 90 per cent accurate, with 10 per cent upgradation to be done. Mumbai contributes to 35 per cent of the total revenue coming in from outdoor advertising in India, so it is one of the biggest markets. The Pune study will be out in the next two weeks. This market contributes to5 per cent of the revenue.

I also feel that outdoor may even have more reach than print because this study only covers 1,000 stretches. Later, as more stretches are covered, it may be seen that it provides more reach.

Vivek Lakhwara, chief executive officer, Aaren Initiative

We've been looking forward to the IOS and in fact, Aaren Initiative was a founding member of the IOAA that urged MRUC to take on this study.

What is great is that locations and streets that usually didn't figure in media plans may now be taken into consideration because of the findings of this survey, one example being Tardeo.

Also, we have our own systems for research, but the use of the GPS system is great where it gives each site an address, which will help greatly in mapping, plotting and planning of sites.

Hemanth Shah, executive vice-president and revenue head, Times OOH

The IOS is the second best thing to have happened to the industry, the first being the launch of an industry body, the IOAAA (India Outdoor Advertising Agencies Association).

The IOS, I think, is a very great leveler as it gives measurement metrics, an overview of the sites and gives advertisers the comfort of knowing what the return on investment would be like. Also, once usage becomes rampant, it can be taken to the next level.

First Published : June 16, 2009
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