Pramod Bhandula, Executive Chairman, JCDecaux India, Sameer Tobaccowala, CEO, Shobiz Experiential Communications and Pooja Verma, Head-Content, Sports & Entertainment Partnerships, Maxus India write about their expectations from 2017 and factors that will affect various sectors
‘OUTDOOR INDUSTRY NEEDS A FACELIFT; HOPE 2017 TURNS OUT TO BE A REVOLUTIONARY YEAR’
By Pramod Bhandula
Executive Chairman, JCDecaux India
Changes are inevitable and the pace of change has only been accelerating all around us. It is a known fact. Outdoor advertising is one of the oldest forms of brand promotion and communication across the globe, and in India, its roots can be traced back as far as Ashoka’s era. The evolution of the industry has been a remarkable process and today there are so many opportunities for which players are ready to invest in the industry. But the question remains for us – Is OOH as an industry ready? Is the industry growing as per its strengths and as expected? Is it being marketed the right way?
NEED TO HAVE A STRONG BACKBONE
For every industry to stand strong, it needs to have a strong backbone. A backbone that comprises rules, regulations, policies, investment opportunities, security, recognition by law-makers, etc. The OOH industry lacks strong regulations and this has been a major concern and also had impact on its growth. The issue is not having multiple players and multiple formats; rather the issue is that the industry is not organized and there is no uniformity. The authorities ought to understand the importance of having unified rules and regulations for cities across the country to benefit from the potential
Right now the scenario is such that any player can construct any format in the permitted location without following any industry standard for design, dimensions, materials, etc., Also, varied prices for the same space, lack of information regarding its impact, reach and data on traffic are some of the major problems that riddle the sector, unlike Radio and Television, where multiple players operate simultaneously, abiding to the rules and regulations. Radio is such a young industry, it’s been only 10 years since the industry has opened up to private broadcasters, breaking the monopoly of All India Radio, but still it is so disciplined and stable. The outdoor advertising industry is similar to the real estate or travel industries, but lags behind completely in being an organized sector like Radio /Print /TV. In a nutshell, there is no way to track the ROI, nor is there a way to calculate its impact backed with data for advertisers or media planners to push for more budgets.
NEED TO UP OOH AD SPENDS
India is in the race to become the next superpower after China and the USA, but in the field of advertising, it is not even close to countries like Thailand, Japan, Korea, Singapore to name a few. India cuts a sorry figure when it comes to Out of Home advertising expenditure. It is positioned far behind China, followed by USA, who expend more than $ 10.8 billion $ 7.4 billion respectively on OOH advertising whereas India expends only $ 7.6 billion on overall advertising in spite of having such enormous growing markets. When we look at India’s spends on OOH, it turns out to be a more disheartening figure of just $0.34 billion. If GSM could bring about a revolution in India, why not OOH? Why can’t we get up and revolutionize our industry?
SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP
We are far behind the industry standards and norms in terms of OOH advertising. Our government is looking forward to promote tourism, develop 100 smart cities, develop 500 rejuvenated and transformed AMRUT cities, invest in urban infrastructure, introduce electric cars and buses and develop industrial corridors. All these activities will have so much of outflow and inflow of people, and a public transport system will become a basic necessity. OOH advertising as a beautification element, contributes to the face of any city and how can we ignore such an important factor when everything boils down to aesthetics.
No time is lost! A humongous development opportunity is right in front of us. Shouldn’t we be smart city ready? Let the OOH industry wake up and look around. It is time for us to change for a better future of the OOH industry for the industry to support the fast-paced changes and development. The authorities, in collaboration with the IOAA, need to lay down strong regulations for the industry.
This is the wake-up call. The world is embracing digitization in Out of Home advertising. Let OOH inspire the other advertising industries. Let India also be named amongst the top advertising countries in the world. Outdoor industry needs a facelift and let’s hope 2017 turns out to be a revolutionary year.
BRAND EXPERIENCE: THE FINAL FRONTIER
By Sameer Tobaccowala
Chief Executive Officer, Shobiz Experiential Communications
In the aftermath of Brexit and the US Presidential election, only a fool would venture to make predictions. Let me be that fool.
If there’s one thing I believe I can safely predict about 2017, it is that Brand Experience will be the final frontier where the battle for the customer’s heart, mind, wallet and loyalty will be fought. The year 2017, therefore, will not be as much about great films, fantastic art or layout or copy, as much as it will be about the Brand Experience being made available to the customer at precisely that inflexion point so as to catapult your brand into the consideration set. When aspiring for the customer’s Share of Experience, stakes are high and the customer will not hesitate to punish brands that make a clumsy attempt and fail. But the rewards are equally compelling – the possibility to establish a lasting and rewarding relationship or win over life-long advocacy. Allow me to advance a few observations in support of this point of view.
BRANDS PREFER TO GO DIRECT TO THE CONSUMER
It’s not rocket science that Deo XYZ doesn’t really have a relationship with an Customer ABC who, unknown to the brand, selects this deo in a retail outlet. The channel itself is uniplex – while providing the customer access to a selection of brands, it does not really give the brand any information about who the customer is. Were the same transaction to be made online, a wealth of data would be captured – name, address, composition of basket, previous buying habits and a fairly precise plot of this customer within the purchase-consumption-replenish cycle. So while I am unable to appreciate nuanced difference between the Dollar Shave Club and the Shaving Club, I do think that we are now firmly in the era of Direct to Customer. Driving this thrust will be tools like mobile, frictionless payment, push-to-buy smart buttons, on-device experiences and an expansion of the WeChat syndrome – the hybrid social app.
EMERGENCE OF ALTERNATIVE REALITIES
It’s no secret that on-screen shopping is now the new window shopping. But what if you could persuade the customer to experience your product in a far greater detail than merely that afforded by a stamp-sized thumbnail on a website? Enter Virtual Reality. From fashion to auto, 2017 will see bespoke brand experiences delivered through VR playing a far more important role in the path to purchase. VR undoubtedly requires some serious investment and for brands that are not ready to bet the house on this technology, there’s an alternative – Augmented Reality. Especially suited to delivering a high impact trial process, AR offers fantastic scope for customers to engage with campaigns.
AI VISITS BRANDLAND
Whirlpool recently collaborated with Amazon Dash to debut a smart top-load washer and dryer which connects to Amazon Dash to intelligently order detergent once the current stock is low. In one innovation, the traditional role of marketing has undergone a sea change – from convincing a rational, emotional human being, the marketer now needs to convince an intelligent device. What does this say about the role of the customer in path to purchase?
From Microsoft’s Cortana to Amazon’s Alex and Google Home, the voice
activated Digital Assistant is going to redefine the field of play – including the appropriation of a large number of tasks today assigned to smartphones or wearables.
The trail is already being blazed, perhaps most conspicuously by Pizza Hut, with its chatbots for FB Messenger and Twitter direct message. In order for chatbots to be utilized to their fullest potential, marketers will need to invest some serious time and energy into bespoke bots – familiar with the brand’s tone of voice and language.
So what really does this confusion and profusion of access points mean for us in the Experiential Space? There was a time – perhaps 25 years ago – when a push Brand Experience could only be imparted outside a store or at a Tupperware party. Today there is a surfeit of channels through which Brand Experiences can be delivered. Albert Einstein once famously said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” And for me that really is the answer. No amount of technology or data or algorithms or code can ever empower a machine to develop the level of empathy and identification with the customer that we as marketers are called upon to. In summary, 2017 belongs to those brands that are able to successfully negotiate a new kind of tech clutter and provide the right communication, delivered via the right platform, to the right customer, in the right mindset, at the right time. Get one of them wrong and the customer will punish you. But get it all right and you’re on your way to winning big.
‘WE WILL DREAM IN 2017, BUT WITH OUR EYES WIDE OPEN’
By Pooja Verma
Head - Content, Sports & Entertainment Partnerships, Maxus India
A long time ago, in an imagined reality, Professor Dumbledore once told Harry Potter that “our choices show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.” The wisdom of these words ring true in describing the road ahead for marketers, content creators and brand strategists in their quest to captivate consumers. Allow me to explain, with some patterns emerging in 2017.
An integrated solutions-driven, impact-oriented long-term approach will visibly give way to fragmented and purely budget-driven content decisions. While brands in the North American market could increase efforts to become publishers in their own right, the big bets of branded content will remain on established platforms, especially in India. The Holy Grail however, will be the platform’s capability to deliver measurable results for the brand.
The filter for viral content is becoming finer in terms of separating the wheat from the chaff. Activity based content co-created with a consumer is an open space up for grabs if strategists can successfully tailor campaigns attractive to an Indian audience. Vodafone's Hakke Bakke Moves, created last year by Maxus, is a good example of how this approach can help brands connect and converse with audiences. Content leveraging appropriate moments in a consumer’s life, i.e., ‘Moment Marketing’ will be front and centre, especially in the digital environment, where “made for digital” is increasingly graduating from an anomaly to a norm.
Internet of Things (IoT) could move from cameo to a supporting role in creating unique content experiences for consumers. Its influence could spread across the kind of stories we tell, the way we tell them, or where we tell them.
While technology will be the muse to content, data will be its devoted partner. Social listening and data analysis to enable smarter content strategies will be a pre-requisite rather than an afterthought. Asking for measurable ROI from content will be fair game. An industry-wide agreement on how ROI on content can or should be measured will become a much debated topic. The search, however, for a well-defined universally accepted measurement matrix, something content practitioners would love to have, is unlikely to end soon.
The hunt for talent will take a new turn in 2017. As the market moves to a solution-driven approach that is linked less to domain knowledge and more towards lateral thinking, we will need multi-faceted, free-form teams syncing with each other to come up with creative answers to complex problems. Creativity and collaboration will tango with consistency and entrepreneurship like never before. The decisions will not be based on skill alone. Retooling for bringing to life content that matters will be an important theme in 2017.
And finally, simplicity will underline many successful content ideas. A simple solution or insight packaged creatively will win hearts for brands. And that is tough.
In conclusion, we will dream in 2017, but with our eyes wide open.