By Sai Nagesh
If you were to read the title of the article completely out of context, you may assume people barely spend any time outside due to which most marketing funds are directed almost exclusively towards social and online media. However, that could not be further from the truth. While screen time has increased, the streets are still busier than ever, and while some are still engrossed with their phones on public transport, others are deliberately limiting themselves from being glued to a screen all the time. This attitude has reflected in the world of marketing as well.
Changes in the advertising industry
Advertisements, regardless of their form, are engineered to accomplish one thing: capture the attention of an onlooker and inspire action. In the past, the advertising industry predominantly used mediums such as newspapers, billboards, television, and the radio to deliver their marketing messages. These “traditional” mediums have rebranded over the years in the form of digital outdoor advertising, as well as in the form of more advanced printing and broadcasting methods.
However, it seems that nowadays when someone mentions advertising, the focus is on the new and shiny form of online advertising. Recent technological innovations, however, have led many big players in the advertising industry to go back to traditional forms of advertising, specifically digital billboards and their smaller screened counterparts because unlike online ads, billboards are not seen as being an inconvenience and in some cases are also seen as being artistic.
With the advent of computers and the internet, traditional advertising has become increasingly more sophisticated and digital or Internet-based advertising has proven to be significantly better for targeting specific demographics, leading many advertisers to drop traditional methods altogether. As the reach of digital mediums crosses 450 million and the smartphone internet user-base crosses 300 million in India, digital advertising is likely to surge in a strong way. In today’s digital world, customers are no longer isolated individuals but are more like connected networks. To succeed, every business needs to harness the power & potential of those customer networks. Brands and companies now focus on engaging, empowering and co-creating with customers beyond just the point of initial purchase. This requires multiple engagement forums which offer a combination of brand visibility and brand experiences. According to the FICCI EY Media & Entertainment Report, Digital OOH will be a key growth driver for the OOH industry in India, which is expected to touch Rs 4,300 crore by 2020, on the back of a 7.7% CAGR.
The great advantage of the DOOH (digital out-of-home) advertising is its flexibility as companies can make a schedule that starts from a briefing taking into account a specific location, the day, the most appropriate time of day, the share of time and the audience target. This way, popular demand for target audiences such as investors, travel lovers, the health conscious, millennials, chill-out people and demanding parents can be catered to easily.
Finally, the fact that media owners can run multiple campaigns in real time using DOOH instead of a single static campaign and the ease of dynamically refreshing communication in a big network of touch-points, offering advertisers and marketers the flexibility to specifically choose where and when their ads appear are other advantages of DOOH, pushing its growth. Moreover, with government permissions for installation of digital signages in public spaces, DOOH will continue to grow rapidly.
Outdoor advertising plays a very important role in reinforcing brand messages where customer networks are located. Be it residential or office locations, outdoor helps to recall and induces search amongst target customers. In 2017, the OOH market in India grew by 6% and now stands at Rs 3,085 crore. While retail companies topped the list of spenders on OOH, the telecom sector recorded the highest growth in OOH advertising, courtesy the high-voltage launch of Reliance Jio.
Millennials today spend close to 67% of their time outside homes and the only two platforms to reach them are mobile and outdoor media. Due to the same, well placed and well created outdoor messaging has the power to create dissonance and make a customer reach out to his network to validate their choice. A combination of digital technology and outdoor messaging in ambient locations has the power to even induce a brand choice switch. In fact, advertising expenditure in the outdoor media market, such as billboards and transit advertising, is set to soar this year, clocking in a 15% growth year on year. Since it cannot be skipped by consumers or blocked in outdoor environments, the OOH medium has remained the core channel to reach mass urban audiences.
The global ad trends report by WARC released in February which extracts data from 96 countries and has detailed findings from 12 key advertising markets including India, shows that the heaviest OOH spenders were government and non-profit campaigns, which committed an average of 26% of total budgeted spend on OOH.
The debate will always be on that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in the overall marketing campaign. Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost the brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space. The rapid rise of smartphones and other tracking tools has made it possible for brands to begin tracking various offline campaigns, a feature that was previously unattainable. If the goal of businesses in today’s crowded marketplace is to differentiate and get noticed, it makes sense to use as many channels as possible, both digital and traditional, to attract their target market.
Sai Nagesh is CEO of Tempus and CSO of Laqshya Solutions
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