Digital billboards at the Times Square in New York (Photo/Reuters)
Digital billboards at the Times Square in New York (Photo/Reuters)

OOH digital signage: Will India catch-up with the rest of the world?

Lee Kah Whye | Updated: Aug 05, 2019 11:50 IST

By Lee Kah Whye
Singapore, Aug 5 (ANI): Singapore-based advertising technology firm, Moving Walls, announced last week that it will be launching a suit of digital and automation tools to aid media owners in India with audience data to help digitise their selling process.
The campaign named 'Freedom' was announced at the Outdoor Advertising Convention (OAC) held at the Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre in Powai, Mumbai.
India is among the fastest-growing out-of-home (OOH) markets in the world with media consultant PWC forecasting revenue to reach USD 545 million by 2020, growing at 9.3 per cent CAGR. However, digital OOH advertising forms only a small proportion of that and is estimated to be around three per cent. According to Zenith Media, global OOH advertising will reach USD 38 billion this year and is growing at an average rate of three per cent.
OOH advertising, also known as outdoor advertising, reaches consumers while they are out of their homes and on the go. It is primarily displayed in public areas including transit waiting areas, airports, commercial and retail locations, highways, walkways, buildings, medical treatment waiting areas and even on vehicles.
Whereas traditional OOH advertising mostly encompasses posters and static billboards of various sizes, the dramatic reduction in the cost of LCD and LED screens has allowed building and media owners to invest in digital screens mounted at various venues.
The big advantage of digital screens over static advertising is the audio and visual impact of moving pictures, which is not only far more attractive and dynamic, but it also allows much more content to be displayed on any given screen.
These digitally connected screens or billboards deliver interactive content, can be programmed and altered in real-time, can be linked to social media feeds, and are capable of providing the latest information including weather updates, traffic reports, sports scores and news.
As part of the Moving Walls' Freedom initiative, participating media owners will get access to a cloud-based inventory management software. They will also have the ability to generate audience-data driven proposals and at the same time get to use Moving Walls' proprietary content management software that automates ad serving and proof-of-play reporting.
Moving Walls was founded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Srikanth Ramachandran in 2012. In 2013, it expanded to Singapore which eventually became its headquarters. Srikanth was originally from Chennai. Today, besides Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, it has offices in Mumbai, Chennai, San Francisco's Bay Area and Jakarta.
Srikanth stresses that OOH data matters just as much to media owners as the media buyers.
He was quoted in a Moving Walls press release as saying, "We are equipping every media owner, irrespective of their size or location, with open-source data and automation tools to connect and engage with potential buyers. For media owners who have their own data, there is a crowdsourcing option to submit this truth dataset for review and acceptance. It is time for the industry as a whole to move to an audience and outcome-led media sales."
Media buyers echo the same sentiment. According to Rachana Lokhande, the CO-CEO of Kinetic Worldwide, "Digitisation will transform OOH advertising by making it significantly more audience-led rather than media-led. With access to audience data, OOH, like any other medium will enable us to measure ROI and restructure and enhance campaign strategies to reach wider audiences. So, I'm very pleased to hear the announcement of the initiative by Moving Walls at this year's OAC."
Even as the OOH medium is being driven by digital transformation, it still lags other digital media in terms of providing measurement metrics to help marketers evaluate and improve their campaigns and media spends. Moving Walls' Freedom initiative hopes to address this.
While laws have been relaxed with regards to static outdoor advertising, many Indian cities have regulations which restrict the display of digital screens with moving images along the streets and on the side of buildings. Thus, many of the screens are installed in indoor locations like airports, inside shopping malls and in stadiums.
To live up to the hype and potential of digital OOH advertising, municipal authorities will need to loosen laws on digital screens. Already, Pune and Kolkata have digital OOH screens on roads. Marketing professionals, media owners and advertisers are hoping Delhi and Bengaluru will soon follow.
Times Square in New York City is an example of how digital signage can liven up an area of a city. But without the large digital screens showing all manner of advertising and information, it would be just like any intersection in any city. Everyone will agree that the number of massive screens adds to the vibe and energy of Times Square. Will any city in India follow suit soon? (ANI)