Outdoor advertising will go digital in 2008, after a boom in the retail and infrastructure landscape in the country saw the business grow rapidly in 2007. Billboards became a common sight across malls, roads, bus stops and airports last year. Now, they will keep pace with consumers on the move. Whether consumers are travelling in underground metro trains, catching a flight, sipping coffee in a cafe or simply shopping, banners and hoardings in such places that were once static will walk and talk with them.
Making this happen are several new companies such as C2E Technology Labs Pvt. Ltd, Out of Home Media, Livemedia, Times OOH, Tag Media Network and LeagueOne Marketing Services, with most of them having emerged in the past three to 12 months. Almost all these firms are armed with new technology that promises a more eye-catching and interactive way of reaching out to consumers on the move. And the firms have already identified niches where they want to operate.
C2E Technology, for instance, was launched to tap the advertising opportunity metro stations offered. “We have adopted ‘tunnel technology’ developed by US-based Submedia Inc., and we plan to use it in the tunnels connecting the Delhi Metro,” says the company’s founder and CEO, A. Rabindranath. Through this technology, static images on signboards on the walls of the tunnel give the illusion of moving pictures to commuters inside the train. C2E is selling space for such ads at Rs30 lakh a month, against about Rs1.2 lakh that an advertiser has to pay for a static billboard at a Delhi Metro station. Rabindranath claims to have signed Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd as a client already, and says he is in “advanced talks” with a telco, a bank, and a cola company.
On the move: A boom in the retail and infrastructure landscape in the country saw outdoor advertising grow rapidly in 2007. (Photo: Harikrishna Katragadda/ Mint)
“Around 400,000 passengers travel to and fro, on an average Metro route. We have a smart technology for advertisers who want to tap this captive audience,” adds Rabindranath.
Noida-based Livemedia has set up an entertainment services network of LCD screens in locations where consumers spend at least 20 minutes. Its screens are present in restaurants, hospitals and even some corporate offices. The firm already runs 2,000 screens across 30 cities, and is adding around 250 new screens a month. “With the infrastructure and retail scenario in the country changing by the day, there will be many new opportunities to explore in the near future,” says Rajan Mehta, founder and CEO, Livemedia.
Experts say growth in outdoor media is a function of a booming economy and the subsequent expansion in infrastructure and consumption. According to a joint study by audit and consulting firm Ernst and Young and industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the number of malls in the country will go up from the existing 300 to 600 by 2010 and, in the next five years, some 30,000km of road length will be added to connect metropolitan cities. Besides, metro rail networks are being set up in various cities and 57 new airports are likely to come up (there are around 80, currently). Rabindranath says India will also have 4,000 new escalators (there are now 600) and that these too, will provide an opportunity to target consumers on the move. “The growth in the infrastructure and retail sector is quite conducive to growth of outdoor advertising. Digital technology makes the business more efficient and effective,” says Farokh Balsara, national sector leader (media and entertainment), Ernst and Young.
Along with new players, many existing media companies such as Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd, Jagran Prakashan Ltd and Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd, publisher of Deccan Chronicle, and advertising agencies have also launched their digital outdoor services in the past few months.
“In about six months from now we plan to roll out digital advertising initiatives in and around Delhi’s Connaught Place. We will extend services to the (Delhi) Metro stations (where) we have rights to (do this),” says Aman Nanda, vice-president, corporate planning, Times OOH.”
Another firm, Tag Media Network, is putting up TV screens across local retail and grocery chains, and will offer brands an opportunity to influence consumers at the point of purchase. The company charges advertisers Rs10 lakh a month to air their commercials for 13 hours a day across stores.
“More than 70% of sales happen at the point of purchase,” says Tuhin Mishra, senior vice-president, sales and marketing, Tag Media. “Static advertising doesn’t have the kind of impact that digital advertising has on purchase decisions. For it attracts attention and is interactive,” he adds. The company has already put up 300 screens across 25 cities and plans to double its presence in the next three months.
According to estimates by Starcom Worldwide, part of global marketing communication group Starcom MediaVest, digital outdoor advertising accounted for around Rs40 crore of the total Rs1,400 crore spent on outdoor advertising in 2007. But Out of Home Media estimates that by 2010, the segment will have at least 5% share in such spends.