OOH Industry snapshot: Rehan Merchant, ENG

Rehan Merchant, Group CEO, ENG

Has the pandemic fundamentally changed OOH?

I think the only fundamental change in OOH post-pandemic is that it has grown stronger. Funnily, it is not mainly because of OOH but primarily because other media channels have grown weaker. Clients have less belief now in spending on newspapers and radio due to poor returns on investment – and, depending on the nature of each client’s business going through a sea of change due to the pandemic, they are investing more in OOH and also regional TV, depending on budgets and scalability. Once people feel that they have plateaued on their digital spending with results (as that has now become everyone’s buzzword), they see the real need for OOH.

How are client demands changing?

In terms of demands, that’s not really changing as clients still want a site on Sheikh Zayed Road to consume their budgets However, many clients are realising that they need to spend in multiple areas in the city on OOH media, and this is a gradual positive change year-on-year. So, more and more clients are now spreading their budgets and knowing that brand presence on Sheikh Zayed Road doesn’t get results in other areas. Questions about other areas, roads, localities and importance are now being addressed. However, the way outdoor is now being purchased is what is changing, with more questions being asked. It will continually keep changing for the better.

Where should OOH sit in the marketing funnel?

I think everyone needs to admit that digital and social have trumped all other media channels. OOH arguably will be between 5 and 12 per cent of the overall pie, but every client’s presence and budgeting are different and there are instances where only OOH and digital are present in their media plans, and rightly so. But to answer your question, it should work alongside digital and social for sure. As more digital hardware gets deployed, clients will be able to run day-parting campaigns on OOH like they currently do with digital and social.

What role should technology play
in OOH?

There will be a big change in this very soon. More LED and digital display hardware is being invested in by OOH vendors, and soon vehicular traffic and mobile audience data will start getting off the ground. Watch this space: 2022 may be a turning point for the rising importance of OOH.