Ishan Raina hasn’t been in the news much, at least since he announced his starting Out of Home Media. With Out of Home Television in focus, pun unintended, the task initially was to set up a critical mass in terms of number of screens and test them- out and pitch them to advertisers. After the first batch of research across screens,  he’s finally started talking about targets for the new venture and expectations from the new medium. The journey is still just ‘well begun’, in his understanding, but he is confident as any investor would be in his new venture. Excerpts from a conversation with Gokul Krishnamurthy.

 

o e has  the experience been, from the launch of Out of Home Media, till  date? What has changed in the supply chain, in the advertiser perception?

     This industry needs two or three serious player with deep pockets. What happens when 10 guys who start 100 screens here, 200 screens there, is that they run out of money, then they picnic; then they go and  want to do any stupid  deal with the advertiser because then the advertiser I sitting  on their face. It’s a  natural reactions. If you are giving scale, scope  and have the capability of setting up something, then you can do a fair deal with advertisers.  I am hopping that Biyani will do something at some stage I am told Reliance  is coming in, It’s only in the last one month couple of months or last one month that a realization of sort has come in.

Today, I am happy to talk because we need to evangelize this medium. There is excitement, But the truth is large

 
 

media agencies and large advertisers don’t sit down in the morning and  say, ‘We need to make this fresh media palm and put Out of Home into it ‘. They do it because we go, knock on their door make sense. I don’t want to sound different because I am extremely confident of this medium. At the same time, I want to balance it a little. It’s very dangerous to over hype   something new.
      Now let me tell you the good news. I am now confident that we will have 10,000 screens in a year. I wasn’t confident earlier – even three or four months ago. Two things are happening; a lot of  big people who were sitting on the fence, who were wondering if they should do this, if they should do this themselves and so on, have now realized that it’s a very complex game. It’s a game that involves research; It’s a game that involves logistics. This game is a logistical and you’re done. If one screen in that one bus, that one flights doesn’t work, and it’s noticed, you  can’t hide. You might have 2400 screens working except this one. You’re naked and you’re not  invisible. This cuts both ways the trade loved it. They’re also

“I am confident that we can do 10,000 screens; I am confident that we can do 5,000 by September – October. I was the not so confident a few months  ago then it  was the  ambition, to have scale. There’s a different between ambition and reality.”

 

on NASDAQ People will come in for different reasons.  
We’ll have to work with the agencies, we’ll have to work with the clients – in a few cases the clients  have come directly to us and we’re said, ‘No boss, I am giving you  agency commission’. Ultimately, we all have to partner in this game. I would rather have 85 percent of a Rs. 1000-crore, than have 100 percent of a Rs. 100-crore.
When you talk of 10,000 screens in the next year, what do you think the  value of these screens would be – the revenues?  
Difficult to say, but I would like to be a 100-million dollar revenue company in the next 36 months, 24 months is what I am lusting take time. The second million will come easier than the first 100.
Even now Radio as an Industry is – what – a Rs.1000 crore industry in the next three to four years. Of which, hopefully, I should have a 50 to 60 percent market share – I am the first mover. Currently I have 90 percent market share but it will drop when the big boys come in. And they will come in –
How different do you see yourself from other players coming in to the medium?
As people grow, I think a lot of other player would be in In-store, In-retail. That Is one of our verticals. Inside In-store, they will do much more than us, because they will also have much more leverage over the rest of the store than us. If they do 10 things In-store, I will do only one thing. They will because generalists of In-store, while I will become specialist of Out-of-Home Television across formats.
So you don’t see yourself moving beyond Out-of-Home Television?
 Not in the future. Until 10,000 screens at least, because the screens themselves are computers – a convergence medium to go into mobile and so on. But that will not take away from the fact that we are in the Out-of-Home Television business. We could use it for more interactivity – ultimately it’s an LCD screen. But the format will remain Out-of-Home Television.
Rs.800 to Rs.1000 crores in the next 3 to 4 years – how much of this will be ‘Leisure’ sites, how much of this will be ‘In-store”…?

t would depend on what the other people build – very difficult to say. It depends on how brand adopt and how the competition builds the supply chain. If somebody comes in and does 10,000 screens at work then work will become the largest

category. If the Reliances and the Biyanis put up 20,000 screens In-store, then that would become the largest.
Then again you have Malls – Multiplexes are mushrooming all over the place. You can’t underestimate that either.
The real answer is that it will depend on where the supply chain gets created. And it depends on who comes in with what strength.

How far before advertisers sitting on the fence buy into the medium?

We are today getting experimentative money of large clients. But we are getting serious experimentative money because they are coming back to us. Nobody so far, has told us. ‘You have a stupid medium’.
I have personally met more than 50 clients – much more actually – just for coffee, just to chat about the medium. Everybody says it’s interesting. I think it’s because of one simple human reason – they can see it.
Yesterday I was entering a bus with Subhash Chandra – luckily, that screen was working perfectly! I always worry when I enter a bus. He asked me a

number of questions on how it worked. He’s a curious and he asked me 10 or 15 different questions.
Why? Because that damn screen is in front of him. There’s a touched and feel to it.

Advertisers coming in – how many of them are looking at different content for different markets geographically?

Not yet, And frankly, not many of them have taken all our markets. Of the 25 clients, only two or three have, I think. That’s 25 clients – the number of brands is obviously higher. When people start spending in crores, then you should take individual brands as the count – now we’ll take count on the basis of clients.

What are you suggesting to clients on the creatives for this medium?

We are suggesting clients to get creatives of between 10 and 20 second done. Our experience from FOCUS tells us that this medium works better. In some cases, people don’t have the creative at this point of time. So they’re asking for time – they’re saying. ‘You want it next year in 10 seconds or do you want it now in 30 seconds’? We want it now, obviously.

 

Consumers of Advertising

The good news is that we’re in your face. The flip side is that any small glitch I noticed instantly.

The good news also is that I am confident of our supply chain, logistics and execution. I am confident that we can do 10,000 screen; I am confident that we can do 5,000 by September-October. I was not so confident a few months ago-then it was the ambition, to have scale. There’s a difference between ambition and reality.

Now out first 2,000 screens have been active since end-April / early-May. We’ve tested for four months. Although we commit 95 percent efficiency, we know we’re delivering much more than that. That means I can push the pace on to 10,000. That’s the good news from the supply side. The good news from the advertiser side. The good news from the advertiser side is that about five or six or seven categories have tried us – FMCG, Media, Automobiles, Petroleum, Cinema, Insurance, and Financial Services, Travel…

 
 
 
At this stage, I don’t think they are depending on us – like they would depend on a Star TV or a Times of  India. At this  stage, they are looking at us. May-end is when we got our first paid-for advertising. Nobody did  an annual contract with us. Between June and July, they came with a monthly activity, a one-off activity and so on. Two weeks ago, four of  them have come back. That to me, is a damn good positive development. Because, if in this year (till March) I can get 200 advertisers to try, some trying small, some big… more importantly, if 50 of them or 70 of them come back, them I can talk to them about annual contract. Another good thing is that all those who have spent with us have the capability to spend 10 to 15 times more than what they have spent with us. They’re all large advertisers who can stretch their spends if they want to, after sampling the medium.

All advertiser are equal for us, but it’s important for us if we want to build the medium that the top 100 advertiser of  this country use our medium effectively, Ultimately, these are conservative guys. And there’s nothing new is checked out again and again, evaluated repeatedly – they take their time And there’s nothing we can do about it ( I can’t even bad mouth them because I’m still a shareholder of MPG!). That’s the breed – it’s full of statisticians, mathematicians and excel sheets, And I don’t even blame them because the clients make them do that. The clients drive them up the wall if the evaluation is not done. The clients are wearing the pants here because there’s an over supply of media agencies. some because they are passionate about the medium, some because it’s fashionable medium for valuation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     want it next year in 10 seconds or do you want it now in 30 seconds’? We want it now, obviously.

    But we’re also helping people out; we’re setting up our own studies in Bombay and Delhi.      Bombay is already operational, Delhi will be operational in another month. We’re digitizing their outdoor ads. A lot of people don’t have a TVC but want to try us out.


Do you see that becoming a revenue stream?


       No, we’re doing that as facilitation. I don’t think I want to become a surrogate ad agency producing content. At the moment, I can’t see us becoming a paid-for creative shop. I can see us having a contest for creative people like the Kaan Radio awards, saying this is the best work done for our own medium.

      Once clients start spending serious amounts of money and once it’s in their plans, then they’ll start getting their agencies to do it. And the agencies will have enough volumes to create specially for the medium.


The content played on the screen- currently it’s just advertising?


      No. That is the Chinese model we’re not doing that. There are three types of content. One is the paid-for advertising for us. This is content for the viewer. For example, Video Clips and trailers of cinema.
     The second type of content is highlights of cinema in the last week, highlights of news in the last week. We’re still experimenting with that. Ultimately. I think the ‘work locations will have very little content other than advertising.
     The beauty of this medium is this on television, content is what you watch and ads is what you slip in – because the guy can flip his channel in a second. Hare you have the gay captive and you’re not irritating him. You’re not in his bedroom. You’re standing outside a lift sitting in a bus you’re not competing with time. so content can be slipped in between the ads ads are what he watches.

    However in places like restaurants where one spends 40 minutes or 45 minutes. We’ll have to give content.

Is the content outsourced?
    Yes, we Neo giving us cricket highlights Times Now giving us highlights: NDTV is giving us some of their lifestyle shows…

Do you see that becoming a revenue source too?

     It is already.

For all of them?

     It is already for most of them But not at the same rate of advertising – that’s not fair often It’s also bundled – you take their

 

 “A lot of people in this line of business… either it’s not their main line of business, or they’re very small. The unfortunate reality is that we’ll have to build it ourselves. I would have loved to have a conglomerate of people. But half the guys have started this hoping that somebody will buy them out.”
 

Advertising and give this at a much lesser rate. It is a source of revenue.


 

For in-store screens, have you evaluated a splits   screen format – same players have choose that model…


 

We’ll not do that these guys are focusing on selling their locations - to sell the in-store in all
  Formats. They’re using it as a way of promoting what’s In-store. We’re not selling a location: we’re selling a target audience.

 

       A lot of people have approached us and said, do just these 26 stores we’re said no already. Two
Of the models that people have tried are failing they are competitor and some of them are friend, so I won’t name them. You can’t have locations- based selling of Out-of-Home television you says TG 1&24,These eight cities.

 

      Yesterday I was with a client in Delhi, who said. “Just give me families in Delhi. Our whole model of work shop play went for a toss you families in mails. Multiplexes residences, He introduces something new someone else may say. Give me just males, or primarily males’

 

      We will evolve as we go along. And our three categories might become eight. We might have a multiplex package, for example, six months from now.


 

Earlier in the conversation, you stated that there’s an over-supply’ of media agencies. Is there an supply of

   
Media or media Angeles or both?

     Both I think There’s suddenly so much of choice.


Given the currant expectations from out of Home television (most of them in your opinions expected) Do you see yourself focusing more on “work’ locations and the like?


      See, there are corporates entering real estate who want to do everything. Then there are the real estate conglomerates. I have 130 Screens in DLE properties in Delhi. The reason we’ll be larger than these guys is ,I have 50 developers. So anyone has to be larger than all so of these guys put together. If one developer does it himself. The other developer doesn’t want to go to him.

      It’s not just DLF. We’ve tied up with Hyper City for   all their properties and a lot of others – these are 20 to 30 big clients we’ve tied up with and several medium and smaller clients. So it will be mix And it’s hard to say now.


Do you see yourself tying up with a BTL or Promotions firm to offer a package to clients?


Not at the moment

Does it make some for a clients looking at pop to go some who offers a package?
       No….it’s a philosophical question of how you want to build your company saying I will do everything in these locations or you can build your company saying. I will talk to 100 mm people in Out of Home television. First your have to evangelize and build the medium and then may be at some stage some business model will work someone will buy someone else out at this stage I don’t want to get fragmented.

        There is so much to be done here even now on the supply side 10.000 screens and 20,000 screens is a lot and there is so much to be done on client’s side.


Do you see any common points of working together with other players in the medium-on measurement, for example?

     See a lot of people in this line of business… either it’s not their main line of business or they’re very small. The unfortunate is that we’ll have to build it ourselves.

     I would have loved to have a conglomerate of people. But half the guys have started this hoping that somebody will buy them out There was someone who came to us with three contracts – he hadn’t even put up the contracts at a valuations.

     I don’t know – somebody may come and place 20 of these guys together. It happened in the cable Industry. So you have to understand whether you want to start like a cable industry or business models.

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  Then there are other people who want to test waters the problem is that by the time you test the waters the real estate is gone It has to be leap of faith. We are fortunate that our investors have been investor with focus for the last four or five years and have faith in the medium.
 

(Back to measurement)

 

All our advertisers tend to believe our numbers our numbers are in any case more believable than Television numbers after CAS. That’s in chaos Nobody is believing those numbers.


 

At least It’s a common number for the industry in the case of television. In your case. You’re talking of your number alone, ratified by a Nielsen…


 

No, It won’t be our numbers alone over time it will have to be an industry measurement. It’s just that we have to finance it in the beginning and hope that the industry will go for a respected, independent. International measurements system. at the moment we’re not under pressure to prove numbers. They’re based on human beings in office. In multiplexes, not on some diary of some other method.

  We’re spending a fortune on research but we’re doing it to protect the future. Nobody has told us that they don’t believe the numbers.
 

With the medium getting traction, will we see ad rates going up in the coming months?


 

No. In fact with 10,000 to 20,000 screens I see the rates coming down. We have not introduced a trial price, because then you can’t take 20 advertisers told us to give them two weeks free – and then they said they’d advertise for a quarter. We told them to do it the other way round – take a quarter and we’ll give you two weeks free. Again, we were testing them. It’s a question of commitment and there was none.

 

When you see yourself going up to 10,000 screens, in three years or so, what do you think will be the total number of screens?


 

20 to 30.000

 


And you’re looking at 50 to 50 percent of that going by the value expectations you have stated…



 

     I would Like a 50 percent market share. I would struggle for it but I would like to have a 50 percent market share. I am hoping there’ll be us with 50 present, someone with 25 and five others with five percents that’s how this works internationally. That’s the ambitions.

 

     Our job is to get a 500-600 crore top line create a good company have the top 100 advertisers on a sustained basis with us.

 

     This medium will do well our job is to ensure that it does well as soon as possible. We have the most to gain: and we have the most to lose.