Namah Chawla
Advertising

Outdoor advertising sees recovery; ad rates yet to revive fully

Categories like BFSI, electronics, FMCG, OTT, real-estate and retail are likely to spend big bucks on OOH advertising, predict experts.

As people begin to step out of their homes, various brands and marketers have started relooking at their outdoor advertising spends. The festive season and the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) have also made both the brands and marketers reconsider outdoor advertising.

Ever since COVID struck, most of us have connected with each other through our mobile phones. Now, we are more likely to look up when we are outside, rather than look at our tiny mobile screens.

Experts opine that out-of-home (OOH) advertising recovery has been better than expected. Atul Shrivastava, CEO, Laqshya Media Group, tells afaqs! that OOH is now seen as a suitable medium to reach the target audience. “The earnings of festive season 2021 are expected to be close to 2019, which is a positive sign,” he says.

Atul Shrivastava, Laqshya Media Group
Atul Shrivastava, Laqshya Media Group

The oversaturation of digital media and the constant bombardment of ads on social media are other reasons for the brands and marketers to reach their target audiences through OOH advertising.

For Mark Titus, director marketing, Nippon Paint India, the silver lining is having the IPL during the festive season, which means more excitement for a brand like his.

Mark Titus, Nippon Paint India
Mark Titus, Nippon Paint India

Nippon is currently running a campaign, in association with IPL teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). The brand has also planned few product launches. “Keeping in mind the increased mobility, post-COVID lockdowns, we are seeing a slight increase in OOH spending for the festive season,” mentions Titus.

Outdoor advertising sees recovery; ad rates yet to revive fully

Brand categories bullish on OOH

Brands across categories are opening up to outdoor advertising. Shrivastava of Laqshya Media Group points out that it is not just over-the-top (OTT) platforms, auto brands or smartphone brands, but even banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) and real estate sectors are spending big bucks on OOH advertising.

Sidharth Parashar, president - investments and pricing, GroupM India, agrees, saying that fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), retail, BFSI, media and OTT brands will continue their dominance. “High-end real estate, luxury automobile and other premium brands will dominate at premium OOH touch points.”

Sidharth Parashar, GroupM India
Sidharth Parashar, GroupM India

People usually tend to invest in things, including a new home, during the festive season. Karthi Marshan, president and CMO, Kotak Mahindra Group, says that keeping this in mind, his company has announced a low home loan interest rate of 6.5 per cent.

Karthi Marshan, Kotak Mahindra Group
Karthi Marshan, Kotak Mahindra Group

“This is one of our major campaigns. Our emphasis is on OOH and digital media. We began an aggressive push towards home loans last October, and have used OOH advertising on a sustained basis.”

Outdoor advertising sees recovery; ad rates yet to revive fully

During the festive season, people also spend heavily on home renovations, etc. Titus informs that Nippon’s recent OOH campaign was for its product Weatherbond PRO.

Outdoor advertising sees recovery; ad rates yet to revive fully

The brand is doing a 360-degree campaign around it, and OOH advertising is playing an integral role in metros and key non-metro cities of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Nippon has also executed some bus shelter-led innovative animation campaigns in cities like Chennai and Bengaluru.

Are OOH ad rates back to pre-pandemic levels?

The ad rates have a major influence on whether the brands make OOH a part of their marketing mix, or not.

Sanjeev Gupta, MD of Global Advertisers, mentions that though the brands are optimistic about OOH spending, the ad rates have still not gone back to the 2019 levels and are yet to cross the pre-pandemic mark. However, he seems optimistic.

“Last year, the ad rates had fallen to zero. If there is no third (COVID) wave, then the ad rates are likely to reverse to pre-pandemic levels by December 2021.”

Many OOH advertising companies slashed their rates for the most part of 2020 and early 2021, and gave special COVID discounts.

Gautam Bhirani, MD, Eyetalk Media Ventures, mentions that his organisation provided discounted rates till July 2021. But it is now back to normal rates for the outdoor space. However, due to comparatively lower footfalls in spaces like malls, restaurants, commercial complexes and co-working spaces, both the brands and agencies still expect some discounts.

Gautam Bhirani, Eyetalk Media Ventures
Gautam Bhirani, Eyetalk Media Ventures

Is DOOH the new conversation starter?

Speed, flexibility and measurability are the key DOOH currencies that create lucrative opportunities for brands to broadcast content triggered by day and time while measuring its performance impact.

As Bhirani mentions, “Due to COVID, every industry went into transformation. OOH also took the big (technology) leap, which has changed the dynamics of planning and buying. Large format digital out-of-home (DOOH) displays have taken centre stage in cities like Delhi and Mumbai.”

Talking from a brand’s perspective, Marshan tells us that though DOOH is part of Kotak’s marketing mix, his only complaint from the medium is that the brand is starved of supply.

“I really like the flexibility it offers to bring alive a hitherto static medium. I’m also happy about the possibility of now progressively reducing the use of vinyl. I look forward to the day when DOOH will also be solar-powered, becoming a truly sustainable medium.”

Parashar of GroupM India states that premium touch points (like airports) are likely to see significant ad spends. “The advertisers are seeking more innovative solutions for their brand communication and that’s likely to be the flavour of this festive season. The demand for DOOH is on the rise across metros. The reason: the medium provides better scope and real-time audience connection opportunity.”