You often see advertisements of prominent media groups, be it print, visual or online media, on a billboard in a prominent position. In Kerala, you see many such billboard advertising of prominent media houses. You might wonder why such media groups use such billboards, despite their wide reach and online presence. The 5 km Thrippuinthura- Vyttila road has got more than three major media houses advertisements on billboards. You find two prominent newspapers billboards and an FM Channel advertisement among many other billboards. There are a number of other places where you can see billboard advertising of Television News channels in Kochi.
So why do prominent media houses use billboard advertising when their media is an effective forum? Unlike others, billboards are free for passers-by whereas for others you have to buy a newspaper or tune in to their channel. Even though a passer-by’s glimpse on a billboard lasts only for a few seconds, it creates a lasting impression with their large, eye-catching graphics and the key message. Unlike any other media, billboard advertising allows media groups to reach more people faster and cheaper than any other mass marketing media. A research shows that most billboards and the message in it get repeated views which help engrain the message in to their memory.The competition among different media houses makes them chose billboard advertising to get an upper hand in the market. Since every billboard leaves a lasting impression, they are keen on putting up advertisements in places close to airports, metro stations or main junctions. The aim is to catch the affluent class to them.
In the past, two major media houses in India had a tug of war which resulted in an array of billboard advertising targeting and countering the advertising attack. The case in point- Times of India v/s The Hindu. When TOI aimed to enter The Hindu’s stronghold market in the south, it created an advertisement that read “Stuck with the news that puts you to sleep?” The ad ends with the words: “Wake up to The Times of India”. Even though both the print (also OOH) and TV ad did not name The Hindu it was a common knowledge that the campaign was a dig at The Hindu. Apart from the text which urged readers to “Wake up to the Times of India” from boring stories about drab ribbon-cuttings and factory launches, long-drawn articles on the unchanging water situation and tedious reports on dull police drills and political rallies, it clearly had a typical South Indian setting be it the Police Station setting or some ribbon- cuttings or the water tanker chaos. The TOI billboard advertisements further asked: “Why start your day with a newspaper that lacks the dynamism of our constantly changing world? Get news that keeps pace with it. Wake up to the Times of India.”
The Hindu attacked TOI with a cluster of billboard advertisements like “Read about Political Parties. Not Page 3 Parties”, “Also has pages 1,2,4,5,6,7...”, “Because Government malfunctions Matter more than Wardrobe malfunctions”, “Space for Business Leaders not Cheerleaders”, “For Current Affairs that go beyond Bollywood Affairs” all criticising TOI’s Tabloid approach focusing more on celebrity and Bollywood news which were of less importance.
It still remains one of the eyegrabbing billboard advertising. Also, both media houses underwent changes- The Hindu put up an improved layout design to attract young readers and the TOI became more vigilant in terms of editorial content.
Billboard clusters are the new trend for media groups targeting billboard/ outdoor advertising. It helps them create bigger presence for their brands. In Mumbai, stringent rules restrict the size of billboards also make media groups turn to billboard clusters. The trend is that stretching a single brand message across two or three adjacent billboards or using a visual on one and the text on the other though Kerala is not ready to experiment on that trend. Billboard advertising companies are also happy about using the proximity of the hoardings to grab more attention. In the process, more billboards are sold at one go and economies of scale can apply as well, believes them.Advertisers are looking at prime, hightraffic sites for cluster ads for maximum brand mileage. Prime sites typically attract a premium of 20-25%.
The decision to go up with the current trends by OOH solutions has also helped in media groups to effectively advertise in billboards. Earlier irrespective of differences between markets, clientele, most OOH solutions featured a one-size-fits-all solution. Today, a more targeted, datadriven, responsive and personalised approach is being made. Many media groups now prefer digital screens considering the lower cost of putting up LED screen advertising. Modern airports in metro cities like Bengaluru, Delhi and Hyderabad, and Metro rail services have contributed to the digitisation of outdoor advertising. With a more streamlined focus, outdooradvertising is also one of the few sectors which have adapted well to the changes in consumers’ preferences. Digital outdoor advertising is expected to go up in the near future as OOH players opt for more customised and innovative products for brands.