Milestone Brandcom aims at revolutionising OOH landscape; launches Milestone Optimiser

The agency has introduced an audience measurement matrix, Gross Impression Points (GIP).The optimizer tracks 25,000 sites in 10 cities. Is this the answer to calls for a universal currency?

The joke used to be that there are as many measurement tools for out of home as there are OOH agencies. But for some time now, marketers have been crying hoarse that the growth in India’s OOH business could have been much better had there been a universal currency to measure return on investment (RoI). For the record, the OOH industry is pegged at around Rs 1,900 crore and as per the FICCI-KPMG report 2014, it will grow by 9 per cent in the next five years.

Last year, the OOH business grew by 6 per cent despite the tough economic environment. Long ago, recalls industry veteran Roda Mehta, the OOH medium was sold on the basis of physical attributes like the size of the hoarding/billboard, cost, its visibility and distance. It was mostly the judgmental call that the agencies and the clients used to take while spending on the medium.

Tools come, tools go
In 2009, MRUC and Hansa Research launched the Indian Outdoor Survey (IOS) for audience measurement of the outdoor medium for two cities Mumbai and Pune. The IOS not only provided a reach and frequency model for media planning/selling but also gave insights into the quality of an outdoor site through a visibility index. It also served as a comprehensive, credible and up to date inventory of OOH sites by market and by format. 

However, the IOS failed to work as it couldn’t take into account the infrastructural changes that were happening rapidly in the cities. “For instance, when the IOS was launched the data of consumer profile was like when women used to go out, it was usually vegetable markets where they could be found. But then places like Big Bazaar and Hypercity emerged and the traffic started moving there. Youngsters went to Café Coffee Day (CCD) outlets or McDonald’s whenever a new one sprang up. The survey failed to record such frequent developments,” says an OOH media veteran.

Though there still isn’t any universal currency that can help planners plan on the medium, there do exist, jokes apart, many tools – many agencies have invested in various data that can help them make a logical investment. For instance, IMRB (Indian Market Research Bureau) provides the stakeholders with ‘Target Group Index’ data. It can, for example, reveal what is a better advertising or marketing platform (TV, radio or OOH) for a particular target. It can also tell – if it’s OOH – which platform on OOH works best, whether it is a billboard, bus shelter, airport media, railway media or street furniture.

These agencies also rely on the iLap data from Hansa that helps understand the consumer’s living standard, demography and his profile. Traffic Count is another sourced information that is used to plan on the medium. While not all agencies can afford such data and many still work basis gut feeling, bigger agencies like Posterscope, Madison OOH and Kinetic Worldwide have access to such data. The agencies have their individual optimizers that help them make an informed and logical decision. Now, comes Milestone Brandcom’s latest offering.

Optimum effect
With an investment of around Rs 5 crore, Milestone Brandcom has also launched a system, ‘Milestone Optimizer’ that aims at revolutionising the way the OOH industry has been functioning. Tracking 25,000 sites in 10 cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkatta, Pune, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Ludhiana), ‘Milestone Optimizer’ will provide a knowledge bank of opportunities and scope for planning in the outdoor advertising space.

Milestone Brandcom’s new measurement matrix, Gross Impression Points (GIP) definitively measures the reach and frequency of an OOH campaign giving it a holistic planning solution. The web-based tool collates data from IRS iLAP (Hansa Research); TGI (IMRB Research), Traffic Study (Gfk Mode) that aims at helping marketers, media planners and buyers make superior and cost-effective outreach to consumers.

Nabendu Bhattacharya
Sanjeev Gupta
Bhavesh Somaya

According to the agency, the Milestone Optimizer provides accountability since it gives factual data collected on traffic count, consumer behaviour and segmentation. Nabendu Bhattacharya, MD and founder, Milestone Brandcom says, “Brands will soon grasp the scope in this Rs 1,900 crore sector and understand how underutilized it is in the country. The GIP measurement matrix is a complete scientific measurement solution that will redefine the OOH Industry.”

The Milestone Optimizer provides reach and frequency of different modes of OOH advertising through GIPs that can also be compared with the more conventional forms of advertising such as print, TV and radio. It also allows one to evaluate category benchmarking and market threshold level of activity aiming to give a whole new dimension to media planning. 

The pluses…

While at present, the data will just be available for Milestone Brandcom’s clients, Bhattacharya says they are open to extending the services to other agencies in future. “We want to give something back to the industry,” he adds.

According to Sanjeev Gupta, MD, Global Advertisers, if Milestone is open to sharing the software, his agency will be one of the first to subscribe. “Right now, we are not following any measurement data as such and mostly the buying and selling happens on gut feel. The currency will definitely give a boost to the industry,” he declares.

Giving a client’s view, Bhavesh Somaya, marketing & innovation director, Diageo India adds, “What has always foxed marketers in the past, has been the measurability and outcomes delivered by this media in isolation. The Milestone Optimizer tool promises to overcome this challenge and determine the incremental reach this medium can deliver. I look forward to using this tool to optimize media plans in the future.”
…and the minuses

There are experts who believe that the method will have its own shortcomings. “It will be interesting to see if the optimizer will take into account the weather conditions of the city. For instance, in New Delhi after 4-5 pm in winter, it becomes so foggy that one cannot see a hoarding. In the same way, during the rains in Mumbai, no one will be interested in seeing a bill-board or bus shelter. How the agency will tackle these issues is to be seen.”

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