There is little doubt that the Digital OOH space is an emerging and exciting advertising platform for advertisers and is poised for significant growth in the near future. The reality though is that the traditional formats are still by far the definitive choice when it comes to out of home usage. The challenge hence is to remain relevant in this ever changing media environment and to re-invent itself in order to attract advertisers and brands in the future.

A chance conversation with an associate of mine, led us into this very discussion of seeking avenues and creating possibilities of increasing the advertising share for the digital OOH space. Unconsciously and interestingly enough the discussion moved towards the philosophical and practical aspects of money. We found ourselves getting excitingly caught up and pulled deep down into a vicious whirlpool of a thought which manifested itself into an articulation which read, “Everyone and everything gets attracted by money, but what does money itself get attracted to?”

It is said that the more you chase something the more it moves away from you, but the minute you stop the chase, take a back seat and relax it almost always finds ways of coming back to you in some form or the other. This is as true with media and its many offerings as it is with any other aspect of life. The same can be said about the digital ooh space as well. Making money is always a challenge and will continue to be so. There are companies and products that are extremely successful in doing so while there are others that are still groping in the dark trying hard to figure out the magic mantra required to fill up their advertising coffers. Amazingly enough there are magazines and print products that do not boast of a significant print run but surprisingly walk away with larger shares of advertising revenues than the more established offerings in the industry. The difference arguably, lies clearly in the subtleties of positioning than the reality of the product.

I urged my colleague to further think of the most successful and sought after Bollywood star of the last decade and a half. The name he unflinchingly threw up was the middle-aged visibly wrinkled guy who answers to the call of SRK. My next question to him was, “What comes to mind when you close your eyes and think of this star? I decided to do this as well and we both dived into our laptop bags looking for that elusive pen a search that ended in us pulling out two practically blunt pencils that needed some attention but didn’t matter at the time and scribbled our thoughts on the coffee stained napkins lying on the table. The words that took shape when we thought about this star were…Stylish, Fashionable, Distinct, Articulate, Humorous, Relevant, Aware, Good looking, Adaptive, Successful, with a point of view and an Attitude to carry it off as well. All this we agreed added to this star’s charisma which is why the biggest of brands flocked and tripped over each other to be associated with this star and his persona. There was a time when no brands were endorsed by him but, with time and we would like to believe some deliberate effort at packaging and marketing his persona grew and how. This is what money itself gets attracted to.

As a shift in the paradigm the digital medium might want to look at the country’s favorite matinee idol as their competition for a change. By emulating all the attributes of this star and packaging their product in line with this persona might add a bit of spark to the product and its imagery.

The digital OOH screen should be stylish in its look; why should a screen look like a screen? Can it for instance be given a brand colour that is daringly different and is similar throughout its network? The screen should be Fashionable in its approach; could it have a shape that is unique something that draws attention instantly? The screen should be Distinct in its placement at locations like malls and multiplexes. It should be articulate and meaningful in its communication with its consumers through its served content; Content should be served in the local language, this brings relevance and develops affinity on part of the consumer. The screen should maintaining a sense of humor that will bring a smile to the faces of its viewers; Humor that is factual and satirical with a message in tow. The screen should be relevant at all times to its consumers and to its environment, it should be aware of its power to influence and lead perceptions, it should stand out through its good looks in seemingly cluttered locations. The screen should be Adaptive in its offerings and design; can the exuberance in content during festive seasons be tapered down during times of strife and mourning? Yes! The screen should have a meaningful point of view; similar to an editor’s view on current happenings and developments. All this and more will help the ubiquitous screen become an integral part of the common psyche which is when it will get the attention that the screen deserves.

Once this attention becomes addictive and viewers spend more and more time looking at and admiring the many facets of this exciting medium; money gets to work, advertisers begin to notice this addiction on the part of the consumer, which in turn lures them to start talking about advertising on these screens. It’s simple the eye will spend significant amounts of time ogling at good looking and interesting objects that are relevant and meaningful in nature. Brands are in constant pursuit of such eyeballs and will do whatever it takes to just be in the same frame that are part of such sightings. When a digital screen becomes all of what this country’s favorite star is and more; then the pie will not only increase but a new pie may be just waiting to be baked. Did I hear a jingle out there?

Fabian Cowan
Vice President