Indrani Sen: Measuring OOH media in India: A plight or a challenge?

11 Mar,2019

Indrani Sen

By Indrani Sen


In the Neons OOH Conference & Awards 2019 held in Gurugram last week, the issue of monitoring OOH in India and developing an OOH AdEx again came to the limelight. The panellists from marketing organisations and OOH industry expressed concern about the lack of OOH measurement and agreed on the need for generating data for OOH to align with ROI in the medium.

OOH Industry took a big step towards the end of 2017 when in collaboration with AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India), IOAA (Indian Outdoor Advertising Association) circulated a standard set of procedures (SOP) to OOH owners and marketers and advertising/ media agencies. Any report related to the success or failure of implementation of the SOP has not been reported during the following year 2018. It is unlikely that in the highly fragmented outdoor industry, such voluntary standardisation of operating procedures has happened during just one year.

Can IOAA along with AAAI work out a similar SOP for OOH measurability so that leading outdoor agencies who have independently invested in outdoor measurement system, follow a common methodology and matrix for measurement? This will enable the industry to compare or combine the results available from different sources. There is also lack of sharing of knowledge of the measurements carried out by individual outdoor agencies, which needs to be addressed.

TV AdEx system was the precursor of TV Audience Measurement in India; similarly it is believed that we need an OOH AdEx before developing the OOH Audience Measurement System. There is also need for a OOH Census or a baseline survey for creating the sampling framework for the OOH Measurement System. The industry also need to decide if the OOH AdEx as well as OOH Audience Measurement Model will be confined to only urban India or alternatively, should it be confined only to “India”, leaving out “Bharat”? These are some of the issues which will have to be debated by the Technical Committee appointed for AdEx as well as OOH Audience Measurement System.

The first serious attempt for a syndicated outdoor research happened in 2009 when under the guidance of MRUC, Hansa Research conducted Indian Outdoor Survey (IOS) in Mumbai. MRUC had plans for rolling out the research in other cities subsequently which never saw the light of the day due to lack of funding. Subsequently, IOAA tried to revive the project along with MRUC, but was not able to generate the required financial support from the OOH industry in India. No market research organisation took the risk of investing in outdoor research on a large scale though couple of them have developed models for assessing the ROI of a particular client’s outdoor campaign. The issue of monitoring and measuring OOH in India has remained as a plight for years with no one coming forward to develop a workable solution.

It came as a pleasant surprise when few weeks back, I read about Display Metrics India’s (a start up company in data analytics) plan for unveiling a roadmap for OOH metrics development in India. In an event held in Mumbai on January 17, 2019 Display Metrics announced that in association with Czech Out-of-Home Displays (MOD) for the Indian OOH industry in association with IOAA ( It was extremely reassuring to find that a group of young entrepreneurs taking up the challenge of developing OOH metrics in India. It was equally disappointing to note that there was no participation by Display Metrics India in the panel discussions or any mention of their venture by the industry stalwarts participating and debating various issues at the panel discussions at the 9th NEONS OOH Conference.

It appeared from the above report that IOAA has lent their support to the venture of developing OOH metrics in India proposed by Display Metrics India. IOAA is an established entity with easy access to other industry bodies like AAAI, ISA and MRUC. The ball is therefore in their court to promote the venture of Display Metrics India across various industry forums. After all, it is rare to find a group of young entrepreneurs ready to take up the challenge of monitoring Indian OOH media and creating a metrics for measurement. It would be a real pity if such a venture is met with premature death.



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