Startup to OOH advertising

Startups aiming the outdoors now for advertising

The online mobile payments company MobiKwik went onto put up four large hoardings on a main South Delhi road, all next to each other and almost similar in content just a month ago.

The hoardings were reminiscent of the online real estate giant’s large billboards

The Housing's billboards, stacked one over another. Source: officechai

The Housing’s billboards, stacked one over another. Source: officechai

placed one on top of the other recently across major metros. Online entities are now realizing the fact that they need to build up their offline presence too and that too in a big way, more so when they plan to raise funds.

Whether it’s the Delhi Metro, Hyderabad’s Banjara Hills, Bengaluru’s MG Road or Mumbai’s Marine Drive, India’s e-commerce startups are taking up prime real estate on billboards space across the country, becoming the No. 2 spender in the Rs. 2,500-crore outdoor advertising sector.

City skylines, arterial roads and a range of other urban structures are now dotted with hoardings bearing names such as Flipkart, Quikr, Portea, BigBasket, Ola, MobiKwik, Big-Basket, Uber and PepperTap.

The e-commerce giant Flipkart's Billboard as seen in a major metro, Source: media4growth

The e-commerce giant Flipkart’s Billboard as seen in a major metro, Source: media4growth

“We had lined up our outdoor hoardings at entire stretches around NH8 (the portion linking Gurgaon and Jaipur) or main roads in Delhi.

There was no way a user would have missed it,” said MobiKwik CEO Bipinpreet Singh. “It is cheap and cost effective, especially with respect to small towns.” With a budget of only a few lakh rupees a month, startups are able to advertise on hoardings even in central business districts. “Rates in the industry vary hugely, from Rs. 50 to 80,000 per square foot per month, depending upon the location.

With ad budgets running in crores, ecommerce startups have become the No. 2 outdoor advertiser in India, just after the real estate sector,” said Ayush Srivastava, CEO of Lakshya Advertising. He added that large ecommerce companies have outdoor advertising budgets of Rs. 15 crore-20 crore.

“Out-of-home advertising serves as a great awareness vehicle and status symbol as many of the recently funded startups are adding this to their kitty for launch campaigns,” said Arghya Chakravarty, CEO for the OOH business at Times Innovative Media. “These players may not have a pan-India presence and follow a very focused approach.”

IT parks are typically the first choice for such companies, especially those that offer hyperlocal services. On the Delhi-Noida Direct Flyway, an eight-lane tolled expressway, a huge outdoor hoarding of a one year-old startup has been strategically positioned.


The IT parks are the number one choice for a startup of any kind, Source: Dlfcybercity

The IT parks are the number one choice for a startup of any kind, Source: Dlfcybercity


“It’s put up to catch eyeballs of white-collar workers driving to Noida from Delhi. It’s a short campaign of 15 days,” said Navneet Singh, CEO of grocery delivery startup PepperTap.

Paytm, Quikr, Portea and BigBasket are following a similar strategy, making their presence felt on auto-rickshaws, at metro stations and even on pillars. Some online companies are experimenting beyond hoardings.

“You may have to look at other options like metro-train branding, poles and kiosks to complement the plan,” said Shankar Nath, senior vice-president at Paytm, a mobile commerce platform. For one of our merchant acquisition campaigns, we branded 500 autos in Surat where we believed our target group would be very engaged with the messaging.”

References: Brand Equity

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