As consumers resume shopping, entertainment and travel amid a decline in Covid-19 cases, marketers and advertisers are seen going back to places such as malls, cinemas, airports, metro rail, bus queue shelters and large format billboards in a bid grab eyeballs.
According to experts, out-of-home (OOH) media spends are expected to rise as the itinerant Indian returns to the new normal.
Aman Nanda, Chief Strategy officer, Times OOH, told BestMediaInfo that he is seeing positive signs of realignment of marketing budgets to target audiences on the move through the OOH medium.
A third wave, though, may affect OOH spends; it remains to be seen to what extent. Times OOH on its part has geared up its processes and systems to mitigate any impact that may arise from a third wave. Having suffered two lockdowns, media owners have perfected their business continuity strategies.
“The key driver will be DOOH. Although DOOH accounts for only about 4% of India’s OOH industry, as compared to an average of 20% in the more developed markets, over the last one-two years Indian OOH markets have witnessed increased digitisation across environments, a growing presence of programmatic DOOH players, and high smartphone penetration. All this would contribute to the growth of DOOH audiences. The general trends and advertiser feedback are positive and we predict that the revival will be sooner than later,” Nanda said.
Fabian Trevor Cowan, Country Head, Posterscope India, believes the indications are encouraging not only from advertising but also from an inventory point of view.
With a positive buzz around new inventory and data-backed signs of a faster recovery to pre-Covid levels during the second wave, he is sure that the medium will bounce back soon.
The recovery or a bounce-back this time is expected to pick up and grow exponentially owing to the fact that the entire economy was on the front foot and raring to get back to play the last time around. So, even if there is a third wave, matters such as lockdowns, public health and safety and keeping the economy running will be handled strategically — enabling an instant return to normalcy with minimal damage, said Vishal Gaikwad, Business Head, dRSTi Communications.
According to Sidharth Singh, Co-Founder, CupShup, the last quarter of 2021 is what he is betting on for OOH to recover.
“The clients have still kept the cards to their chest (rather cheque books to their chest). Clients are sitting on approvals and not ready to splurge yet and understandably so. Having said that, I think brands have hearts in the right place and intend to bet big on OOH. So we are hopeful of a recovery soon,” he added.
For CupShup, though, he doesn’t foresee any full recovery at least till the end of this quarter. Conflicting reports about the timing and severity of the third wave has made matters worse and thus brand managers are adopting a wait-and-watch policy.
Brands to re-align spends around festivities
Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, said the brand, despite speculation about a third wave, plans to spend around Rs 20 crore on OOH in the next two quarters.
“Traffic seems to be back to normal and so OOH, which was not considered such a great medium during lockdown, is now giving much better results. Plus, a lot of market revival is happening so I think it's a good time to invest in OOH. Ad spends in Q3 are generally little higher in any case across all mediums and OOH won’t be an exception. Also, so many innovations are happening around OOH and that seems to have a very positive impact on the advertisers to spend on the medium,” he said.
Krishnarao Buddha, Senior Category Head, Marketing, Parle Products, however, cautioned that the recovery of OOH will be difficult in the coming two quarters. While FMCG as a sector has increased its spends to the tune of 15-20%, majority of the brands are still refraining from spending on OOH.
However, Gaikwad hopes the millennial and Gen Z brands from the ecommerce (fashion and electronics), FMCG and automobile domains will bank in on the dynamism and quantitative approach to targeted messaging capabilities of DOOH platforms and leverage it by allocating good Q3 and Q4 budgets for the same.
As the market has opened up, Nanda too expects a growth of 60% in air traffic and road traffic. The key categories fuelling the OOH sector’s growth are BFSI, real estate, FMCG, auto, and consumer durables, and make up about 35-40% of the market.
“Brands are approaching investments in OOH with gentle caution. That being said, the spending has increased and we see an upward trend even for this quarter. Also, a slew of IPOs being lined up for the very near future will offer a spurt of revenues for the advertising market in general,” he said.
Though, business-wise, CupShup is still at 60-70% of pre-Covid levels, it has evinced great interest from brands from June-end and hopes things to pick up from here.
Singh said, “Spends are definitely increasing as the last quarter was damp squib. But we are nowhere close to pre-Covid levels. Brands are hedging their bets and RoI appears to be the war cry for the moment.”
However, experts said now that audiences are getting back out of homes, there is no reason why advertising will not follow. Cost-cutting was the mantra in the middle of last quarter and most clients have big spends in the offing.
To attract more advertisers, Posterscope is engaging its advertisers and partners with relevant, useful and up to date information on the OOH ecosystem and trends that indicate post-pandemic scenarios, on which advertisers can base their advertising judgements.
Times OOH is working closely with brands and the airport authorities to offer bespoke innovations and engagement opportunities at its properties.
dRSTi has allowed for flexible tenure campaigns (for brands) to ensure another lockdown doesn’t impact the budgets allocated to the campaign. The brand is given the liberty to pause on-going campaigns during such lockdowns and use the remainder of the tenure for further campaigns.