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OTT and government's infrastructure spending will boost OOH industry, says Rachana Lokhande of Kinetic India

The Co-CEO of Kinetic India says OOH will increase its share to 10% in the overall marketing pie this fiscal. She talks about the growth potential of digital OOH and how aggressive outdoor advertising by Netflix, Prime Video and other OTT players is pushing the growth of India's OOH industry

Rachana Lokhande

The OOH industry, which at present has an allocation of 5-8% in the total marketing mix of marketers, will increase to 9-10% this fiscal, said Rachana Lokhande, Co-CEO, Kinetic India, a WPP entity and a global leading player in out-of-home (OOH) media.

The growth will be driven by three major developments — data and technology-driven DOOH, collective work within the industry and infrastructure boost by the government, Lokhande told in an interview.

The unique integration of technology and mobile data has opened numerous possibilities in the field of digital out-of-home (DOOH). “We can now engage our audiences with real-time and dynamic creatives,” said Lokhande.

Data syncing and creative-led technology can enable brands to unlock the full potential of digital OOH advertising. Consumers are constantly on the move, and chances are, wherever they go, they will have a mobile — using and producing reams of data at every step.

 Developments such as Wi-Fi-enabled transits or DOOH screens can pick up the data and marry static locations with consumer data.

The government’s focus on increasing the robust infrastructure within the country — be it upcoming malls, metros, or even smart city projects — will also favour the DOOH medium.

According to Lokhande, DOOH advertising is now being operated in silos in multiple players with a complete lack of means and awareness of how to help it sustain. “To understand the proper use of DOOH and to add revenue to the overall industry that leads to benefit every player in the industry, a common ground for the collaboration of tech as well as media partners is required,” she said.

At present, the DOOH market is fragmented, with DOOH owners present in bits across the country. “Everywhere different agency heads are selling their media separately, therefore the term silos. It is not collectively called DOOH,” Lokhande explained.

“If we together strive to bridge the gap, remove the existing biases and add revenues to the overall industry, all the outdoor players, be it small or big, will collectively benefit,” she said.

Speaking on improving the challenges faced by marketers in OOH advertising, Lokhande, said, “As agencies, we work towards the benefit of brands. Personally, I think the biggest challenge is collaboration. People with the same intention need to unite for the benefit of the industry and not function as individual entities. All we need is a change in intent. Amalgamating technology to include efficiencies, looking for concrete solutions to measure ROI while collaborating with partners to build better products, and bringing in more technical transparency will play an integral part in this process.”

Lokhande says Kinetic is adapting to the changing times. “Today our focus is channelised towards audience planning, be it digital out-of-home, mobile, or static. Although mobile is like a natural extension of OOH, we are certain digital will grow faster than all other mediums. To explore this equation, Kinetic has partnered with Xaxis (our tech arm), which has produced some positive results,” she said.

Speaking on current trends of the outdoor industry, Lokhande said, “Based on data accessed by us, the OOH industry must be approximately nearly Rs 5,500-6,000 crore. Half of it does not get tracked or is not reported. The latest trends say the next big players to implement OOH will be OTT platforms. DOOH has great potential and a lot of new players are investing in this medium.”

OTT players such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, Sony Liv use the medium and the industry will witness more business from this sector.

On the current challenges, Lokhande said, “As for challenges, there are quite a few. To begin with, the existence of illegal media (media with either expired/ non-renewed licences) and the lack of a national-level policy. It is high time we have a formal method to this madness. We need standardisation of costs, regulation of sizes, and filtration of locations to be in place before the DOOH boom begins.”

Talking about the slow growth of DOOH in India, she said, "Digital is not about taking on investments without planning ROI. I think most importantly the industry needs to take a step towards educating people on how recovery can happen on investment.”

“India as a country has more than 2,000 media owners. With DOOH being executed across the country in fragments, regions have been unable to reap complete benefits. As far as Kinetic is concerned, the idea to get larger partners to supply us with the maximum legal assets will act as a filter, and we can pass on the benefits to our clients without jeopardising their interest. Internal consolidation is one of the key initiatives that we put in place last year.”

“We have taken regions and tried to measure how we have fared, and which are the partners that we want to aggregate with. Understanding their perspective, we have tried to see if we can derive benefit in the cost that we acquire media at."

Highlighting the growth opportunity DOOH presents, she said, "With India adapting to newer technologies and concepts, there are a lot of serious players coming in the arena of DOOH. But looking at the volatile nature, the way our country is, the progress may be comparatively slower. Although, the boost is more in a controlled environment, complemented with more security, things can be managed better. Malls and airports have already adapted to digital, because they see potential as well as value in it. Plus, digital will remove the involvement of manual labour in installing media, with the added advantage of faster turn-around-time, and the opportunity of changing the creatives dynamically."

On the growth outlook of Kinetic Outdoor, she said, "Kinetic grew double digits last year, slightly more than the industry. We have set a higher benchmark and are expecting to achieve the same."

Lokhande said that content marketing, in a shorter and crisper format, could work very well on DOOH.

"Advertising has always been incomplete without content. Ever since the days of yore, OOH has been a form of storytelling. Like the shortest story ever that can be grasped at a glance. The representation may vary but advertising without content is incomplete. With the advent of futuristic technologies, the quality of data and analytics received via DOOH is going to be way more accurate. This will help brands churn out more targeted content. Eventually, the different types of content that we see online, on television, on social media, and out-of-home, will slowly converge. While content can be played on multiple channels, OOH has the ability to make it more relevant to the audience at that location and make it more engaging," she said.

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