It is plainly apparent that the OOH media industry has suffered considerably in the pandemic and it is equally certain that a recovery plan is in the offing. But today, I wish to talk about a locational shift of this business, implementing its existing learnings in a brand new environment. As customers are increasingly staying at home, the OOH palette can easily shift to private spaces, benefitting clients, agencies and customers as well, as an expression of Tripartite Media.
An increasingly large section of urban India is now living in the apartment block, fashionably known as the condominium. Over time, especially in North and South India, this has become a genuine gated community offering all facilities within the same compound and thus a safe haven during the pandemic. Depending on size, most condos have captive branding spaces ranging from hoardings to pole kiosks to elevator displays and even live brand demo, which is already a regular occurrence for cars. Now imagine this space being opened up in an organised manner to advertisers through the media agencies with rates being decided as per conventional media planning logic. Most uniquely, the society resident is also a beneficiary as revenues from this source can offset maintenance costs or other capex heads and that is a huge advantage to enjoy for some permissible commercialisation.
It is rather obvious that such captive branding spaces with high frequency of exposure will be attractive to advertisers and the possibilities get more compelling if rendered innovatively. Many societies now employ the mygate application for visitor entries and have captive groups for residents and these can become forums for bespoke messaging while technology can come to the party in many ways. Imagine a Product and Services feature being inbuilt in this app or perhaps featuring autonomously, which gives paid leads for focussed queries — ranging from free range chicken to plumbers to hearses. Urban Company would certainly be interested as would many hyperlocal service providers and this can be a win-win for all parties in the fray. Quite effortlessly, the intuitive community values of such entities become a potent accelerator for valuable messaging and thus a lifeline for the beleaguered OOH industry.
You may naturally argue that the possibilities must end at the doorstep of individual residences but here too I must differ. Modern ethical families are responsible recipients of high-end sampling and advertisers can reach customers effectively through the auspices of societies and if a feedback mechanism is properly constructed, this can become a potent experiential research. Gaming contests can be held for children and adults can be exposed to branded interactive content within society WA groups as easy familiarity will lead to better participation. A key constituency of housing estates is the domestic support staff and even this promising demography with enormous hyperlocal outreach across the nation can be influenced. Truthfully, a potent medium for social messaging as well as the potency of dispersion is quite staggering.
What is true for the apartment block is also true for the tight and integrated mohalla behaving in a similar psycho-demographic fashion. Thus, what were high street affections for the OOH industry must transform to small street possibilities as folks are still walking around and visiting the local kiranas. Miniature branding formats and even the comeback of the multi-sensorial cycle vans can be possible game changers as can hoardings and banners that conform to the statue of the lanes. Wall paintings can become potent revenue streams for cash-strapped legacy house owners and help offset their municipal taxes, yet another potent illustration of Tripartite Media — where every stakeholder is materially cushioned.
As the High Street and the fashionable mall become dodgy revenue entities, courtesy pandemic fear and ecommerce, the OOH industry must look for sustainable alternatives. Where the basic principles of governance can be applied in a newer but equally opportune environment, as dictated by the new and rather alarming normal. The chieftains of this craft must draw strength from customer centricity and the evolving possibility of achieving identical outcomes through a different route map, which is the ‘In The Home’ hypothesis.
For hotels, Conrad Hilton had insisted on the efficacy of Location, Location and Location. For the OOH industry I must advocate the same, with the minor caveat that it is a changing location.
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