Industry POV

Impact Of Elections On OOH Advertising By Fabian Cowan, President, Posterscope

27 Feb 2017

Interestingly in the recent past India has perpetually been in election mode, be it general, state, or civic elections. This has in a way conditioned the outdoor medium to accept the presence of this category if you may. This year too was no different. With elections across 4 states and few more to come, marketers seem to have mastered the art of planning and timing their campaigns in line with this new reality.

The Elections are perhaps, politically, the most interesting democratic mandate that the nation is witnessing. With long standing political alliances breaking down, it is now a case that can only be fought as individual parties and not alliances.

The outdoor sector has seen an increased demand within the current election-heavy environment, which in turn has led to shortage in inventory for corporate players.  Since most cities have banned posters that were stuck on walls etc., billboard remains the only viable option, which not only is cost effective but also promises reach.

Additionally, the one key change that Posterscope has observed this time around, is the strategic approach to outdoor advertising seems to have been undertaken by political parties. From performance tracking of advertisements to a more targeted approach towards hoarding placements, this shift in the mindset is a welcoming change.

However, it is ironically true that even though this is one of the hardest fought elections in recent times, the impact on Out of home media availability on the whole has not been impacted to levels one witnessed during the general elections. There could be a few reasons to this. One can easily be attributed to the impact demonetization had and visibly still has; wherein a significant percentage of planned campaigns were either shelved or held back. Predominantly among those being from the real estate and fast moving consumer goods categories. Out of home industry insiders maintain that the effect hasn’t weaned off completely, and opine that normalcy is still a few weeks if not months away. The other reason could be attributed to the historic aversion to full-fledged out of home advertising by brands and marketers during an election period, for reasons that are more than obvious.  Small towns also saw a sizeable use of Out of home media. Auto booming was an important media used along with billboards in these towns.

Whatever the case may be, it emerges that all parties used the medium adding in sensibility and a planned approach. Our vote goes to all parties for that for sure.