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2014: A year of challenges and achievements for OOH

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The year 2014 has been a challenging one for some sectors of the economy and a time of hope for others with the coming of the new government at the center. Overall, both trade as well as manufacturing have been sluggish. Outdoor like other advertising platforms is a barometer of the health of the economy. OOH grew by a 15 to 20 per cent in the last one year despite increased competition, unenthusiastic buyers and galloping inflation.

In this scenario marked by rising operational costs, stiff competition and high inventories, Global responded by innovating its price, product as well as service offerings. We created Asia's biggest hoarding in Bandra, threw a rope to cash-strapped real estate firms by offering barter deals and flexible payment options and offered complimentary PR and social media support.

We have entered an interesting phase as far as the real estate sector is concerned. High rates of interest on home loans coupled with rising unit prices have built up big inventories as high as 15 months in some parts of the country. In this situation marked with serious cash flow issues, real estate players are offering discounts, easy payment facilities and other facilities to attract clients. Global is meeting this challenge by offering hoardings on EMI, and on barter to its builder clients across India. Mumbai’s buyers, who wish to invest in a second home as well as holiday villas and plots, have to be made aware of projects in markets that offer more reasonably priced properties with better ROI. We are making special efforts in this direction and have executed several campaigns in the last few months – the latest being for XRBIA in Pune which was a grand success.    

If I have to note one big highlight in the year behind us, it would be the marked improvement in political campaigning. All parties led by the ruling party at the centre used OOH as a primary medium to send their message across to voters along with digital and social media. The last Lok Sabha campaign has changed the face of election campaigning in India for ever. This is good news for OOH as well as for advertisers in general as it underlined like never before the power of OOH as a medium.

OOH has a long way to go before it can serve the grand designs of our PM to turn India into a global manufacturing hub. We continue to struggle with red tape, lack of standard norms and arbitrary levies and delays in decision making. There is also an urgent need for transparency, regular monitoring and a system that measures OOH media on the basis of accepted metrics. In several cities there are restrictions on erecting digital billboards that come in the way of developing new properties. These factors come in the way of growth of those in the outdoor business and also create trust issues between service providers and clients. One hopes that the PM will look into all these issues and work towards the creation of standardised guidelines for outdoor properties that include new, better, and transparent rules for the erection, leasing and licensing of billboards and other outdoor media.      

 (These are purely personal views of Global Advertisers MD and CEO Sanjeev Gupta and indiantelevision.com does not necessarily subscribe to these views.)

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