Slowdown to impact outdoor advertising

MUMBAI: The looming slowdown in the Indian advertising industry will badly hit the outdoor medium, according to media agencies who are revising their forecasts for this year.

Zenith Optimedia CEO Satayajit Sen ranks it as the third most impacted, after print and radio. “We were expecting the outdoor  space to grow at 5-10 per cent this year. But it will now post low single-digit growth. All peripheral mediums like outdoor will experience ad budget cut,” he says.

Lodestar UM COO Nandini Dias feels that outdoor and print will be the most affected ad mediums. “A number of sectors like retail, finance, and banking have pulled back advertising. Since outdoor and print have a higher CPT (cost per thousand) than TV or radio, they will be more affected. Even during the last pull back, cost effective mediums like TV were the least affected,” she says.

From the advertisers’ point of view also, the availability of other “cost effective” options with “better metrics for measuring effectiveness” may affect the growth in outdoor.

Broadcasters, who are one of the major spenders on outdoor advertising, are less bullish on splurging in hoardings than they were in earlier years. Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (Zeel) is reducing its ad spend on outdoor while increasing its exposure on digital.

Says Zeel marketing head - national channels Akash Chawla, “If you see outdoor and billboards, it is involved in the marketing mix but that component has been going down for us since the last 3-4 years on a constant basis.”

In 2008, Zeel’s ad spend on outdoor was around 40-45 per cent of the entire marketing spend, which has fallen down to 28-31 per cent now.

“On an increasing ad budget, billboard advertising as a component has decreased. We look at hoardings from show to show perspective. In totality, ad spend on OOH is coming down. Reason being that there are lots of other options of advertising available and the metrics evaluation in the other mediums is far better. When you talk about the geographical coverage, the entire thing in outdoor is to get into smaller towns but issues like difference in printing and creative not being put up on time happen. On digital our ads spend has grown to 10 per cent from 2 per cent in 2008. How many people log on, cost per contact and pay per click help monitor the medium and get a better ROI. When it’s about BTL (below the line), we tend to do an aggressive job and that continues,” says Chawla.

UTV Broadcasting, which spends almost 20 per cent of its marketing amount on outdoors, will keep the budget at the same level.

Says UTV Broadcasting head marketing Kunal Mukherjee, “For us, it is a pretty much constant space. Outdoor is a good medium to be continuously present in smaller towns."

Sony Entertainment Television (Set) spends around 15 per cent of its overall marketing budget in outdoor and will keep it that way.

However, outdoor ad agencies feel that the slowdown will not be as much impacted as the other mediums.

Milestone Brandcom founder and managing director Nabendu Bhattacharyya admits that it is not a very good year for the industry. “The industry as a whole is suffering and not only the hoardings. Though Telecom does not spend like it used to earlier, it is still the highest spender on hoardings followed by BFSI and then M&E. Automotive industry is also very active and luxury cars have been utilising hoardings as a medium in a big way. In smaller markets, the major spenders are gems and jewellery, lifestyle and real estate. I see FMCG spending a lot more.”

However, he hints that the need of the hour is a 15-20 per cent discounted rate. “With a 15-20 per cent discount, it (hoardings) will be preferred over other mediums. Because the demand and supply chain will change, the clients will look at it more because it has become cheaper. Hence, outdoor will be least impacted.”

According to Posterscope MD Haresh Nayak, hoardings as a percentage to OOH‘s total revenues have fallen over the years from 80 per cent to around 50 per cent. "The demand for activation continues. Clients have been looking at malls and multiplexes activations in a big way,” he says.

Nayak estimates the outdoor industry to grow by 10-15 per cent this year compared to 18 per cent a year ago."It is a very localised medium. It is easy to adapt and so it gets least impacted,” says Nayak.

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