afaqs!

Brands shy away from Delhi Metro

By Poojya Trivedi , afaqs!, New Delhi | In OOH News | December 17, 2010
Though it has increased the OOH media opportunities in an outdoor-restricted city such as Delhi, the occupancy is still not very high - almost 60 per cent of the OOH media properties inside the DMRC stations are lying vacant. afaqs! finds out the reason.

It has been almost two months since most of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) routes have become operational, barring a few odd stations that are being added to the existing lines.

The Metro was expected to provide a great boost to the OOH (out of home) landscape in the capital. Though it has increased the OOH media opportunities in an outdoor-restricted city such as Delhi, the occupancy is still not very high - almost 60 per cent of the OOH media properties inside the DMRC stations are lying vacant. afaqs! finds out the reason...

The 190 km Metro network, which is spread across 130 stations (excluding the Airport Express line) offers an advertising space of about 25,000 sq. m within premises. However, only about 40 per cent of this space is currently being utilised for the purpose of advertisement, while media is either not installed or remains vacant in the remaining space.

The common reason provided by media owners holding the ad rights to these stations is that they are still in the process of installing the fixtures. While it may be a valid reason for the newer lines that have come up in the last few months, what's interesting is that even in the oldest route -Shahadara to Rithala - the occupancy is 40 per cent.

Jatinder Singh, associate vice-president, TDI International, says, "We have a total of 800 sites on the stations but only a few stations have high footfalls. Even in the stations with high footfalls, the occupancy is not more than 40 per cent and that has become normal now."

A senior industry source says, "The occupancy also varies between stations based on the profiles of commuters. The Shahadra-Rithala route has a higher number of low-end consumers, which restricts the brands from opting for this route."

This is also why the Vishwavidyalaya-Central Secretariat route currently has a high occupancy. Industry observers predict that even in the South Delhi route, which has recently become operational, the occupancy could be higher in the near future.

Many blame the media cost as a major hindrance.

As Aman Chaudhary, national client servicing director, Navia Asia, says, "The cost of media options available inside the Metro stations is just double that of the media which is available in the city."

For instance, if the cost of media outside the station is in the range of Rs 400-500 per sq. ft, inside the Metro station, the cost goes up to Rs 1000-1200 per sq. ft. However, media owners say that they do offer discounts of up to 25 per cent in stations which have low footfall.

Chaudhary adds that the Metro media properties lie highly underutilised as the planners and clients don't get to see the medium - it is a case of out of sight, out of mind.

Navin Khemka, senior vice-president, ZenithOptimedia, supports Chaudhary's statement. He says, "I don't think it is marketed well in terms of the push needed from the concessionaires to sell the space. When the concessionaires who have the rights are not aggressively pushing it with the client, it doesn't become an option."

Media observers are of the opinion that the medium is not marketed well because the rights are scattered amongst several players. Had there been a single player with sole rights for all Metro stations, the advertisers would know where to go. They need a one-stop destination.

However, not all is lost as yet! Media buyers still express their confidence on the medium. They feel that advertising at Metro stations offers various advantages over traditional outdoor. These include quantifiable reach numbers (ridership data) and better ambiance, where media options are exposed to consumers.

Tarun Nigam, executive director, North India, Starcom Worldwide, says, "As of now, there is basic advertising happening. In the future, more experimental media and formats will come into the picture, which will provide much needed clutter breaking options to advertisers."

Hemanth Shah, president, OOH initiatives, Lintas Media Group, says, "As the dwell time is more and movement relatively slower, even smaller formats can deliver more inside a DMRC station compared to those outside, even if the prices are high."

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