Ananya Pathak
Advertising

How are brands that rely on outdoor media dealing with lockdown?

We spoke to ALTBalaji’s Divya Dixit and Dunzo’s Sai Ganesh on whether they expect billboard owners to refund their payments, or give them an extension.

These are scary times. People are trying to stay indoors at all times, maintaining social distancing, avoiding physical meetings, sanitising at regular intervals, and stepping out only when it is absolutely necessary. With the COVID-induced lockdown being imposed across major metro cities of India yet again, the situation sure does not look very good for the brands that rely on out-of-home (OOH) media for advertising.

These brands are in sectors like movies, sports, entertainment and financial services. Another prolific user of the traditional hoarding advertising in the country is the OTT segment. Brands like Netflix, Amazon Prime, ALTBalaji, Hotstar and others tend to spend a fortune in order to get the attention of the consumers towards their new/recent launches. Billboards across the busy streets of major metros, as well as in airports, malls, bus stops, etc., often highlight what’s new on the streaming platforms.

But given the current circumstances, when lockdown has again been imposed across metros like Mumbai and Delhi, what do these brands do? Will the billboard owners now refund their money for any pre-booking/ongoing campaign, or do they ask for an extension on the same?

Speaking to us about the suspension of OOH advertisement, Divya Dixit, ALTBalaji’s SVP - revenue and marketing, says that it will not create a dent in the overall marketing strategy and outreach of the brand. “Learning from last year (2020), we concentrated extensively on our digital media based on performance and social media handles, as well as SEO and portals that are being accessed by our subscribers. Influencer marketing and tie-ups with other digital apps have also worked stupendously for our shows.”

Divya Dixit
Divya Dixit

Dixit opines that in such a situation, when the audiences across the country have gone virtual and are consuming content digitally, digital marketing can prove to be the safest bet for the brands. “Especially for a digital-first platform like OTT, it promises to play a crucial role in the overall marketing mix. We have allotted 70 per cent of our marketing budget for it.”

Dixit also mentions that while ALTBalaji has been at the forefront of executing creative and innovative OOH formats for its shows, the brand is currently not leveraging OOH for any of its shows and the focus is completely on digital.

How are brands that rely on outdoor media dealing with lockdown?

Among the brands that recently leveraged outdoor media ads is local commerce and delivery app Dunzo. The brand chose five pin codes - locations where it has witnessed both emerging demand and a potential new demographic for its campaign.

How are brands that rely on outdoor media dealing with lockdown?

This campaign, the brand’s marketing lead Sai Ganesh tells us over a call, was for the short-term. It was done only because there was access inventory available with the billboard owners. “It was one of those mutually beneficial campaigns that we did.”

Ganesh mentions that the brand has not invested significantly in outdoor advertising recently.

Sai Ganesh
Sai Ganesh

“During the pandemic, the relevance of outdoor advertising is fairly low, as most people are staying indoors. The brands have pushed back on their investments in this space.”

“Although we do not have any outdoor campaigns running at the moment, in my experience of working with large billboard agencies, I have found them flexible in terms of extending contracts.”

Speaking on the same lines, Laqshya Media Group’s CEO, Atul Shrivastava, tells us that brands have shown their confidence in OOH Media and after a decent March the industry was gearing up for a better April this year. “The lockdown situation has affected peoples’ movement out of home and brands are expecting media owners to waive off the display charges for the short period of the lockdown. Media owners are aware of the traffic on the roads and are not completely averse to some discounting on display charges,” he explains.

Atul Shrivastava
Atul Shrivastava

He further mentions that brands want to continue with the campaign as soon as the partial lockdown is relaxed or lifted in Mumbai.

When we spoke to Sanjeev Gupta, managing director, Global Advertising, an outdoor media space owner, he said that over 90 per cent of the outdoor campaigns have been cancelled. The outdoor advertising space has been hit hard by the pandemic.

How are brands that rely on outdoor media dealing with lockdown?

It makes sense, given more than two-thirds of people are not going out during the pandemic, as compared to more than half who were going out before the pandemic, as stated in a recent report by WATConsult (a hybrid digital agency from the house of Dentsu International). The report titled ‘Impact of the pandemic on outdoor activities and events’ is based on a survey conducted among a sample size of 713 respondents across age groups, gender and cities.

The full report is attached below:

WATPapers - Impact Of Pandemic On Outdoor Activities Report.pdfDownload

Also Read: Why do webseries romance the good old billboard?