Good times ahead for OOH sector, but attracting talent still a challenge

Good times ahead for OOH sector, but attracting talent still a challenge

The past two years have been quite productive for the OOH sector. And, 2015 has started with a promise that the outdoor industry’s representative body, Indian Outdoor Advertising Association (IOAA), will play a more proactive role, which is bound to bring more positive news for the industry in years to come. One area where the industry has traditionally lagged is in attracting new talent compared with other mediums.

TV has its glamour, print prestige, digital excitement and radio charm which has often led the humble OOH space getting the shorter end of the stick.

In an earlier interview to exchange4media, CEO of Percept OOH Rajneesh Bahl had said, “More and more professionals are getting into the industry and people are investing in it. The only concern is that the knowledge domain is not increasing. If this increases, the sector will do really well. No new talent coming to the industry, which stagnates growth and inflow of new ideas.”

This analysis is quite common when it comes to the OOH industry, but outdoor agency heads feel that the scenario has improved a lot and is changing for the better.

A reason for this, says Nabendu Bhattacharyya, CEO and MD of Milestone Brandcom, is that for a long time OOH was run and controlled by second and third generation media owners and given the nature of the business, it was largely an unorganised and complex industry with high fragmentation.

“The A&M industry adopted the OOH medium only during 1995-2000. Once agencies showed interest and began to take the medium seriously, clients also started to show interest and push agencies to deliver,” he said.

So how difficult is it to find the right talent, especially from different fields?

Laqshya Media COO Atul Srivastava says talent is now coming to the OOH industry from all sectors. Recruitments, he said, are happening from campuses as organisations now have long-term plans and projects. However, he agrees that attracting talent could be a bit difficult because of the perception of the industry. “But once they are in (the industry), retention is natural. Recognition of individual excellence is a key differentiator to this industry, which binds the challenge-seekers to it,” he added.

Sanjeev Gupta, MD of Global Advertisers, says experienced talent is expensive and experience might sometimes create an unbending mindset, which is not ready to adopt new ways of doing things. “There are factors such as increased competition, price cutting and rising HR costs. Also, talent seeks better packages, perks and more attractive responsibility profile,” said Gupta. This is a point to which Bhattacharyya also agrees.

“All new B-school grads want to join industries with proven returns. All of them look for a good pay package. That’s their mindset from the beginning. I don’t blame them as the OOH sector should first get the ‘industry’ status. Being the third largest medium, we still don’t have any industry unified currency. There are a few initiatives from the advertising association to address these challenges faced by the industry. Hopefully, we would receive positive responses shortly,” he said.

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