OAC 2009: OOH can be the new mass media for the telecom industry

By Khushboo Tanna , afaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News | June 22, 2009
Llyod Mathias spoke about how the outdoor medium can be customised to offer value for money for brands

The fifth Outdoor Advertising Convention (OAC) started on June 18 at Taj Lands End in Mumbai. The second day of the OAC started with a session by Llyod Mathias, chief marketing officer, Tata Teleservices.

Mathias spoke on 'reallocating outdoor spends by geography and what outdoor can do to get its fair share.' He started the session by saying that telecom is not a trusted sector like FMCG. A telecom brand will probably be in the top 100 trusted brands but will not top the list as it is not a very recognisable category.

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One reason for this is that telecom is still a very new industry in India as compared to, say, the beverages or FMCG category. Another drawback for the telecom industry is that although it is omnipresent, it is not very well known. For example, one can recognise the cell phone a person is using as it is visible, but it will be hard to gauge which service provider he is using.

Mathias also shared a couple of positive aspects about the telecom industry. The telecom industry started in India in 1994, when only 1 per cent of the Indian population (only 2 million subscribers) had a cell phone connection. Now, approximately 40 per cent of the population owns a cell phone. Mathias predicts that the industry will continue to grow at the same rate and will add a lot more subscribers. Tata Teleservices will focus on non-metro and rural markets as it expects growth to come from those markets.

There are also a few key challenges faced by the outdoor industry. Mass media such as television can be easily accounted for and hence is preferred by the brand. Outdoor is not generally preferred as there is a relative absence of metrics which can measure the effectiveness of an outdoor campaign.

However, Mathias added that outdoor can be the new mass media for the telecom industry as telecom operators are required to run multiple campaigns. For example, hoardings near the airport and corporate parks can showcase business phones offered by the operator, while low calling rates can be advertised in a local train and data plans can be advertised in coffee shops. All these ads can be released at the same time, unlike media such as television.

Mathias hopes that there will be a seamless integration between outdoor, radio and mobile as these media help consumers to initiate a conversation - which is what the entire telecom industry is about. For example, a person travelling in a taxi on a specific route should be given information about a contest on a nearby hoarding, which he can see and enter the contest code on the hoarding through his mobile phone.

He then shared a couple of interesting innovations done by various brands using the outdoor medium. One of them was the Bluetooth powered Ganesh Pandals created by Cycle Agarbatti. Another one was the Flashmob dancing activity done by T-Mobile in Liverpool Street Station in the UK.

One of the main concerns of the clients for the telecom industry is that voice is a commodity and how does one drive value through data packages and value added services (VAS) through innovative means.

On an ending note, Mathias said that there is not enough innovation in the OOH industry, which needs to be worked on.

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