Brand news

Haresh Nayak: DOOH in India - 'The Dawn of New Era is near'

01 May 2018

Haresh is a veteran in the OOH agency business. An MBA from Mumbai University, he started his career with Prime Outdoor (A division of Prime Time IP Media services Ltd.) where he worked for 3 years and was part of the launch of the company. He was actively involved in the research and tool development. Prior to joining Posterscope India, he was working with Aaren Initiative as Business Director & National Buying Head. Under his dynamic and visionary leadership, Posterscope (part of Aegis Media Group) launched the Indian subsidiary Posterscope India. 

We caught up with Haresh Nayak - Managing Director Posterscope Group India (Aegis Media)to get you a live account of the buzz. The expansion plans his outlook on the Indian OOH industry and lots more...

Excerpts from the interview are as follows: 

How would you look upon your experience in the Indian OOH industry? Do you think the industry growth has come up to your expectations?

Through these 18 years in the industry I and OOH have come a long way.  The journey thus far has been nothing short of tremendous with many milestones achieved but yet the final destination seems to be moving farther. I call this the 'space time growth' phenomenon in which your operating space is continuously affected by the changing times and the growth part is a compelling force that allows you to adapt to the effect.

When I began my career, OOH was not very vibrant as we see it today, the transition from Hand Painted hoardings to Vinyl to now digital is a journey of extremes. The best part is also seeing the space of Outdoor advertising grew from being an outdoor advertising professional to Out of Home to now LOCATION SPECIALIST.  While, developed countries had already set high expectations for the industry here in India, it took quite some time for us to catch up. We are still behind, not very far though, to be able to create at par standards. Reasons could be many but, a single understanding according to me is that OOH marketplace in India is highly localized in a way that it creates dependency for media buying and selling. I am happy to share that this gap is being narrowed with the help of data, technology and ever improving infrastructure.

It has always been phase of trials, figuratively the openness to adapt to the ever so dynamic media environment and standing to the test of evolution amidst the rapid growth of other media forms, OOH has passed at all times.

How important is research in building OOH business in India? Are clients demanding more data points and research findings for effective media planning?

Data is the new light and with digital and technology influencing the day to day life of the consumers, we are seeing more informed decision making by the client in our space. Today for clients their most important stakeholders are their customers, whose behaviour affects the outcome of brand engagement with their consumers. Exposure to myriad media platforms makes it difficult to bind their attention. Here, data comes to the rescue, enabling decision making robust and thought after, therefore the need for research and data driven solution is becoming pertinent, with clients demanding granular information on consumer understanding to be able to connect with their audiences has led to a shift in focus from a demography based approach to people driven marketing. With no common currency metric to govern but there has been a positively perceptible change in means and ways which are pushing media agencies to take independent research aimed at bringing meaning through measurability.

A case in point is the coming together of OOH and Mobile. Hyper local information of audiences can help you create a highly contextual OOH campaign which can bear extended arms in mobile. This idea has already seeded the growth for future in the discipline of Programmatic OOH.

What is your assessment of the Indian OOH industry? What, in your opinion are its strengths and weakness?

One of the oldest medium which has hardly seen decline will continue to grow stronger in the influence of data, technology and infrastructure. With its inherent strength of being able to create largeness and brand awareness, the medium also has a great strength of no ad block or Ad skip which most of the mediums are today suffering  and I believe is going to be the greatest enabler for growth of the medium.

Today the medium though has a weakness of not being able to target and re target and hence bring more efficiency and better ROI, the dynamic ooh will only help bridge this gap soon.

How has Posterscope been a differentiator in the outdoor industry - globally as well as in India? Do you think there is space for more international agencies in India?

Posterscope is a 35 years old global brand.  In 2008 we launched Posterscope in India with the ambition to bring OOH's best practices and global standards in India. Today we bring to India a truly LOCATION SPECIALIST services which are far beyond traditional OOH services. With Data and Technology driving our business our suite of tools is a testimony to our differentiator approach. We launched India's first online OOH media planning tool, 'OOHZONE' which accounts for significant reduction in process time. We also, designed and implemented India's first media rate benchmarking tool the 'rateOOHmeter' for optimum buying across media formats and geographies. Many more such industry first initiatives have been implemented for inclusiveness and better process mapping.

There is always space for new agencies but I feel it's now subject to what they bring to table and how they are able to add value to clients business.

The OOH business is highly diversified and has numerous touch points. Would you still call this a reminder medium?

OOH is a great reminder medium and with people spending more time out of home its effectiveness is growing all the more. Impact and frequency are vital in realizing the full potential of an OOH campaign, more touch points and media formats build great connection points for the consumers to go through the brand story. Categories such as Banking, Real Estate and Mobile Handset have leaned on OOH as key advertising medium for their visibility.

Are you concerned about the general clutter of outdoor media in the main cities? What is the best way to stand out in this medium? Is it necessary to use innovations to deliver key brand messages in the outdoor?

OOH medium was never inherently considered a part of civic infrastructure and when time came for it to be made integral; it was exploited to make a plump revenue stream for government authorities. To top it up, illegal media development has made matters worse. In this clutter, brands with large spends and mass outreach tend to use size as their way out. Many adopt a clutter dominating approach, making the clutter act to their benefit. However, this is case based and such strategies do not always work for all brands. Innovations are helpful if you have to make a bold statement, they are not necessary always. Creative showcase and play of words can also be a useful tool in delivering the right message.

This is a people-driven business. What is the best way to enhance talent development and retention in the industry?

I am of the firm opinion that talent can be nurtured to your needs, it also helps in sprouting core abilities of individuals. We at Posterscope, have invested in a diverse talent pool, with 70% of our workforce from the industry and 30% from non-industry background. This helps in bringing fresh thoughts and ideas, which essentially form the bedrock of a differentiated approach.

We annually conduct close to 10 formal training sessions, involving industry experts across media disciplines. These include, Hunters Meet; a focused training on sales and business pitch enhancement, Route 500; skillset and personality enhancement training at a global scale, DMTI master class; for digital exposure on cross platform learning and many more such initiatives that create a holistic learning environment in Posterscope.

Are brands willing to spend more if presented with innovative options?

Brands want to hear out solution driven options from agencies, if an innovation makes that cut. Then so be it. 

Do you think that the time has come for digital OOH to mark a bigger presence in the Indian markets?

Few months back, I wrote a knowledge piece, titled, 'DOOH in India; The Dawn of New Era is Near' which highlighted the preparedness India is going through to make the transformation from digitally feeble state to digitally enabled state. Smart city initiatives and government's pro digital policies have created a sea of change in the mind set of OOH entities and the transformation is not merely on papers, it is happening for real.

Do you see a greater number of advertising brands using the OOH options now? What steps would you advocate for a greater number of brands to be brought into the OOH fold?

Many brands have painted fond pictures on OOH's canvas, from timeless Amul Girl's cheeky take on nation's status quo, Vodfone's wave that paints the town red to Jio's daunting dominance. Brand's get what they want from OOH. Newer brands born in the digital economy too understand OOH's role in delivering brand message. OOH, to an extent is unavoidable.

I believe brands that have missed out on the opportunity should be made to go through an OOH evangelizing exercise, a sort of an improvisation course that address key brand problems through data and technology in OOH.