DAN Interviews

'OOH needs really great creative work'

Q&A with Posterscope's Annie Rickard and Haresh Nayak

Annie Rickard, president, Posterscope Worldwide, was in Mumbai last week for her annual 'catch up' with Haresh Nayak, ‎regional director, Posterscope Asia Pacific, and managing director, Posterscope Group India. We caught up with the duo to learn more about the Dentsu Aegis Network agency's operations in India and plans. Edited excerpts:

What brings you to India now?
AR: My role as the global brand lead is to visit the markets on a regular basis and catch up with teams in a particular country and find out what’s happening. So, Haresh and I talk atleast once in every six or eight weeks. We’ve met once a year or twice a year at meetings globally, but I haven’t come here for four or five years. So, I thought it was time.

Across your 48 offices, which offices are the biggest in terms of size and revenue? Where does India rank?
AR: India is an important market. In terms of size India could quite soon be the second largest (by 2016). There’s been so much growth here. The difference and growth in the last five years has been quite phenomenal. What I’ve seen is a much more confident team. There’s much more investment, more clarity about what they’re doing. This has led to good growth, which means they’re getting increasingly important. The other markets that are sizeable include China, Australia, France and Germany. The biggest market for us is the United Kingdom.

But, we have to keep in mind that this is not the size of OOH. It’s the size of Posterscope. So, Posterscope India is really successful.

In China, OOH is really important, but Posterscope India is growing at a faster rate than Posterscope China. That shows they’re going a good job here.

You launched a second agency Brandscope in 2010. Where does that stand now? Is there a need to have multiple agencies within OOH?
AR: Brandscope works independently of Posterscope. But, they might have some shared resources like creative and insight tools. But they are separate brands and they look after different clients.

Posterscope works exclusively for Dentsu Aegis, whereas Brandscope works for different agencies and clients.

HN: What happens in India is that a lot of agencies don’t have a specialist OOH unit. Globally Posterscope is known for its insights and data tools and technology that they bring to the platform. We are here to actually give those services to other agencies and work together as Brandscope.

Eighty to 90 per cent of Brandscope's work is for other agencies. We’ve collaborated with agencies like Cheil for OOH for Samsung. We also partner with OMD for Renault. So there are 26 such agencies we partner with.

How has the issue of measurement in OOH been resolved in other markets? Do you see this coming to fruition in India?
AR: Across Asia the biggest challenge for OOH has been the lack of audience data. That is not the case in USA and Europe. Most markets in Asia don’t have audience delivery. India faces that too. We believe that media owners and agencies are coming together to sort this out. But, in the mean time what you have to do is use things like your own insights, data sources on traffic and so on. An industry currency would be quite transformational. Having said that, what surprises me, is the growth of digital. Digital is doing better across Asia than in any other part of the world.

Ambit Analyser was launched in India recently; how has this been accepted elsewhere?
AR: The Ambit Analyser is just three months old. One has lots of different opportunities to advertise across shopping malls, airports and the rest. What the Ambit Analyser does is, it takes loads of data sources, whether it’s footfall in a shopping centre, the type of retail outlets in it, the number of people using a coffee shop, etc. It puts all that data together and then it has this smart analytical tool that can pull up recommendations based on optimising against the client brief.

HN: We all know people are ignoring ads and they look up to brands that are creating engagement. Ambit Analyser has helped us give data – not only for footfalls or RoI to a brand, but we can tell you at a coffee shop, what is the average ticket size spent by a consumer. We are the only agency to do this and the kind of bandwidth we provide cannot be matched.

This is spread across 24 touchpoints (verticals) like colleges, airports, malls, cinema halls, salons etc.

AR: It’s like a planning optimising tool. It’s bringing science into this space, which doesn’t otherwise exist. What we have is what the media owner tells us, so it’s like a verification.

Amongst the 800-odd people who work with Posterscope, how many are in India?
How do you see this growing? AR: About 130 of them are in India. Apac contributes around 400 and both are growing.

Last year the OOH industry grew at 7 per cent according to a report from Carat with transit OOH being the major accelerator of growth. How is Posterscope growing in India?
HN: In India the medium is growing at around 7 per cent. But, Posterscope is growing in India at around 15 per cent.

How big a presence does Posterscope have in transit OOH? Do you have rights to any properties? Is there any intent to own these transit properties in future?
AR: No, we don’t have any properties, but we would buy the advertising on transit. We don’t intend to use that model of owning transit properties.

In the current advertising landscape, is there place for specialised OOH agencies?
AR: I think everywhere people are looking at integration, but everywhere people are increasingly using specialised agencies. We have digital agencies, digital media agencies, search agencies, creative agencies etc. So, if anything there’s more specialisation now than ever. I think that’s because there’s so much data around, and there’s so much more information around. I think specialisation is here to stay. I think that it's possible to have an integrated proposition using a specialist agency. When I started, we were the only specialists in OOH, and everything else was in one agency. But, now it’s quite normal to sit with 20 agencies, all discussing a campaign and working together. I don’t think specialisation is going. In this market in particular, there are about 16,000 OOH media owners. So, somebody has to be able to make those recommendations. And that’s just roadside ones. So, it’s a complicated medium.

The agency launched Prism Creative - how does this help exactly? And also, how has the Indian team embraced this?
HN: This is an older tool we revamped in Asia Pacific. The idea is that a lot of times a mainline agency would give you a print creative and tell you to put it up on a billboard. But, that doesn’t work out. We see so many billboards which are there, but as an agency specialist we have to create differentiation at a different level. Prism Creative would tell you how your creative would look at an OOH site. This was launched in our UK office around 10 years ago, and we’ve been revamping it. The current Prism Creative tells you how a digital video will play on one screen (versus another).

AR: This in a way helps stop bad work going out.

Posterscope had also launched Hyperspace which looked into the creative use of OOH. How is this division coming along? Does this have different teams?
HN: This was launched in 2010. It’s our specialised unit which takes care of our retail space. Right from how one can manage to design, to branded identity, in-store promotion, that’s what Hyperspace handles. We do around 5,000 stores a month across various clients. This has a different team, with around 35 people. But, like Annie said before some of our resources are shared.

In most awards, the OOH category is dominated not by OOH players but other agencies (creative/media/digital). Do you see this changing.
AR: I can’t see that changing. I think that OOH needs really great creative work. Creative agencies are at the centre of excellence for that creative work. It’s important for the medium that creative agencies want to engage and produce great ads. It might become challenging as it becomes more digital, because you then get a whole new set of agencies in the space. But, good creativity is probably one of the most important aspects for our medium.

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