Typically entering into six year contracts, the Ishan Raina headed Out of Home Media is set to put up 10,000 LCD screens across India, across places of work, shopping and leisure. We spoke with Niloufer Dundh, chief sales officer; and Raghu Venkatraman, VP – Media Strategy, to get an update on the specialist star up Out of Home Agency. With people moving in from Star, Sony, Hungama, Radio Mirchi and more, the team composition looks impressive. Screens in Defence Canteens, BPOs and more promise to redefine the scope and reach for Out of Home as a segment…

Could you explain the differentiation you offer?
Niloufer:  Out of Home Television – wherever there is a consumer interaction possible, we are there. The business model is very simple. We are installing LCD screens from 17” up to 42”.
         We’ve broke our lives in to three verticals:
         1.Work 2.Shop 3.Play (leisure)
         We are in the business because of two reasons: One is the time spent on traditional media and consumer connect is on the decline. The second reason is that the only thing that’s growing at 5o per cent today in India is real estate-whether it is residential, IT, malls, multiplexes, BPOs, Office building. That’s the infrastructure or the supply chain for us to grow this business.

Raghu: If you were to go buy ‘Jauli’ (textiles) in Chennai, typically you would go to the T Nagar. In T Nagar you would have the multiplicity of shops and locations. Today with Spencer’s coming in, it gives you multiple choice of brands in the same location. So thanks to the retail revolution happening, we have audience aggregators. While earlier too the audiences existed, today because of aggregation they become targetable. That’s a very natural fall out.
            Earlier, if I wanted to target the movie going audience in Bombay, I might have to do some 150 to 200 screens in as many cinema theatres. Today all I have to do is cover 12 to 15 multiplexes and I know I have covered 80 to 85 per cent of the audience that matters.
            If you take a new economy vs old economy outlook, classic case would be a Hiranandani in Powai versus a Nariman Point. In Nariman Point you have a variety of businesses and you have no idea of the profile that you’re talking about. But a Raheja    Mindspace or a Hiranandani in Bombay, you know there will be IT, you know it’s a young audience, you know they are more or less similar in their lifestyle. That’s a marketer’s dream out there. And we enable that to happen – through a single player, instead of having to go through multiple chaos.            
Niloufer:  we are not really in competition with Pantaloon or Big Bazaar Retail. All these players are in one vertical. While Pantaloons is in Retail Malls, all the other players in the LCD business are all by default in one location or one vertical. We are trying to build a new media that India will get used to seeing.  A year or two from today, when one makes a plan for or for print, we want people to make a plan for Out of Home. We are launching 2000 screens in April, with the aim to do 10,000 screens by December. The only thing that’s stopping us is that there is no single player where I can go and do locations in bulk. 

Raghu: It’s either in the hands of the advertising or the local player. Today if the advertiser wants to talk to an IT or audience, you will have to talk to numerous players  accross India. And even then he will not be able to implement it, be able to give the same scale of implementation across.

What’s the split of the screens between your verticals?

Niloufer: It’s an equal split between Work, Shop and Leisure

Do you see this remaining this way?

Niloufer: It’s very difficult to say. But I think the two verticals that will grow very much would be Work and Play (Leisure). In shop, there are players. There is always gong to be a Pantaloons, a Big Bazaar, there is always going to be a Reliance Retail. We have acknowledged the fact that they will be and they will be absolutely brilliant in what they do best. Ourselves don’t know anything but out screens. For all the people it’s their secondary line of business. The primary line of business is retailing what they have in their shop.
            Work is the one area where people are spending five to 10 minutes and its quality people and quality time. They are not doing anything else. In a café or in a Hypermarket or a supermarket, you’re still shopping and you still have things to do. At work, there are times when you really have nothing to do – when you’re waiting to enter an elevator, in airport bus. These are places where marketers haven’t found an entry. At best what you can do in a BPO? You can canteen for a weekend and do some activity. But in Shop or Leisure, a marketer has already entered its places. have benchmarks of reach figures, audiences coming in. But this (Work) is something with huge potential that has been realized. We’ve seen it work in China and there’s reason why it can’t work here.

Why is your business model reliant on one offering? If you understand consumers in these three verticals, why not express the offerings beyond the screens?

Niloufer: Because that’s the business we want to be in. I in phase 1, we don’t have the bandwidth.

What is beamed on your screens?
Niloufer: We beam advertisements and content.

Raghu: Sports, cricket, music, infomercials

Niloufer: Whenever we are putting up our screens, people want us to do a little bit for them. For example, the Passport office wants us to run something , We are willing look at requirements.

“This is my third media start up in India, and in the first two nobody called up so say, let’s meet, let’s talk – before we even launched. Clients are saying go and meet my agencies today. Even the most cynical media planners seem to be interested. I think two things are at work: we’ve come to a situation where we see saturation and we also see that CAS is working in our favor today.”













Instance Play Mumbai, Work Mumbai and Shop Mumbai.
            What we are actually giving a client today is far more than ha actually had. In Radio, I gave him geography. If you bought Radio and were targeting the car owner in the morning you got me, my 9-year old son, my 65-year old mother, my 35-year old maid and my 45-year old driver. Of the five of us, one was your perfect TG. What television does, is that it gives you a great TG targeting. Advertising may be on an NDTV 24x7 or a CNN, IBN is absolutely perfect. I know that eight of the 10 people who get there are my TG.
            What I am trying to do now, through my medium is give them a marriage of the two – geography and TG. If I am a car company I can buy Work Mumbai, Work Delhi which will give me 54 per cent of my audience. Because 54 per cent of cars are sold in this region.

How has the response been from advertisers?

Niloufer: We have just finalized the rate card and talks are on. The interest is fabulous – whethere it is FMCG, Automobile, Consumer Durables…

Raghu: The way this business happens from where we were on Monday (when the card was finalized) and where we are today (Friday), we are already giving the clients a 20 to 25 per cent bonus because we simply increased the number of signs that we have done which will be operational from April 1st.

Niloufer: Every other guy is making claims, saying I have this and I have that. We took a conscious decision between Ishaan and both of us, and said we are going into the market.
            In this city these are my reach figures by location. These reach figures we have got from them, and we’ve asked them questions like ‘How many bills do you generate?’ So on. We’ve worked out a bill to person ratio.

Raghu: Each location will be audited by a third party research agency.  The vision is that if you want to be treated like a medium, behave like a medium. Which is why I have huge issues when called outdoor-we are Out of Home.
We want to give accountability to the tune of: how many people go in, what is the profile of the people that go into these places, whether an ad appeared or not, and on request, we can even tell you what is the ad clutter, what is the ad impact. Recall of ad elements-this is not something I can promise to each and every client. But I am willing to do it for clients who are willing to commit to me on a long term basis.

Niloufer: This is my third media start up in India, and in the first two nobody called up to say, let’s meet, let’s talk- before we even launched, Clients are saying go and meet my agencies today. Even the most cynical media planners seem to be interested.
            I think two things are at work: we’ve come to a situation where we see saturation and we also see that CAS is working in our favor today. Plus, all these people have international offices. They know what the scene is in a US or a China.

What would be the potential size of the market?

Raghu: I can tell you what my source of business is going to be. Then you can make your own judgment of how big this business is going to be. You have locations coming up every other day. I can’t even begin to scratch it. You can’t even hazard a guess on number of locations because no one has even gone beyond the top 23 or 25 markets. You look at any retail report, everyone talks about top 10 markets, top 20 markets.

Even for the top 25 markets, what is the number of screens that we can have-across players?

Raghu: I think it should be between 50 to 55,000 in three to Four years.

“What we are actually giving a client today is far more than be actually had, In Radio, I gave him geography, If you bought Radio and were targeting the car owner, in the morning you got me, my 9-year old son… What Television does, is that it gives you great TG  targeting, Advertising maybe on an BDTV 24x7 or an CNN IBN is absolutely perfect, I known that 8 of the 10 people who get there are my TG.”








Niloufer: It’s not difficult to do this. The only difficulty is speaking to individual parties. In developed country, you can speak to one person and get the whole thing. Here we’ve realized that you need to speak to the owner of every location. So it’s a very different thing.

From where are you sourcing your content? Are you producing any of it?

Raghu:   We’re trying up with channels. Neo, MTV, and a lot of other channels with whome we have informal arrangements right now. For a channel it works brilliantly.
The single biggest thing is we’re not forcing people to change their habits. You go to office, go shopping, go to a movie, I am at a location where you have nothing better to do. When I am in the Passport Office standing in the queue, I am cheesed off. I have nothing better to do.

Niloufer:   My ads are playing when you are not in an anti-advertisement mood - like with cricket or a TV serial or a movie. What do you do when waiting for a lift, or are in an airport bus? You are not irritated with me. Advertisers seem to agree with the hypothesis. Everyone seems to be agreeing with this.
            That explains the very strong team. We are investing in people, in technology, in growing the medium through research.

Tell us something about your investment in research…

Raghu:  The fundamental thing is that nothing of this sort has been attempted before. We are in talks with three to four people in m market. I hope to have a pilot research in place by April – May. I hope to have results out by mid-May. And I hope to go national by June or August, we should see the first lot of the results out. Every week you will have an ad audit. We’ll do audience audits based on how much the audience profile is changing or how much the market is changing. Obviously that is something we can’t be doing week after week.


50 to 55,000 screens in three to four years – what value do you see these 50 to 55,000 screens adding up to? What would be the size of the market?

Raghu:   It depends. It completely depends….

It would definitely be bigger than what the outdoor industry is at today?

Niloufer:   It would be much bigger. At this level, I think Television – easily. I may be stupid saying this today, but I think it will be bigger than Television.

Raghu:  There are multiple source of revenue that are going to come in. I am going to take money away – a little bit from BTL, a little bit from Outdoor, Radio… in the initial stages. More importantly what we are going to see is perhaps newer business opening up – customized offerings for specific audiences. Hutch for a specific WAP offers targeting IT pros, Nike with different shoes at different price points…. TVCs and print ads can be adapted to my medium. As the number of brands keeps expanding, the need for micro-targeted media keeps increasing. In a lot of situations, mainstreams media is going to cost money and give a lot of audiences you don’t want.

Niloufer:   My belief is that people buy a new media because of geography and depth. I don’t think marketers would bother to make a plan if I say I have 20 outlets in the North. That’s where add on or spill over money or BTL comes in. we don’t want to do that.

You started off saying in phase 1 you will stick to the screens. How long is phase 1 going to last?

Raghu:  I might be in phase 1 in a Tier 2 market or a tier 3 market, but in Bombay or in Delhi, I might want to do phase 2.

The single biggest things is we've not forcing people to change their habits. You go to office, go shopping, go to a movie, Iam at a location where you have nothing better to do. When I am in passport office standing in a queue, Iam cheesed off. Ihave nothing better to do"
      -Raghu Venkatraman