KARACHI: Digital innovation and better measurement will help push out-of-home (OOH) advertising to the heart of media planning in Pakistan, a leading industry figure has said.

According to Ahsan Sheikh, CEO of outdoor agency Kinetic Pakistan, the country's brands are finally coming to appreciate that modern OOH media can be more than billboards acting as a support to a television campaign.

"With the new context of digital and consumers being online when out of home, the opportunities to engage with the consumer are limitless," he told Brandsynario, a trend that will only get stronger as smartphone penetration increases and 4G availability becomes widespread.

And the ability to support the claims made for OOH media with hard data will be vital in altering the perceptions of advertisers.

"Now we are able to deliver media ROI figures to brands which are comparable to TV," Sheikh said. "Concepts like reach, frequency, GRPs are all available for OOH as well," he added.

"I strongly feel that this data will be the game changer for this medium and OOH as a medium will move to the centre of media planning in Pakistan."

Out of home already plays a major role in some categories with around 20% of marketing budgets for FMCGs being put here, according to Sheikh; and for some clients, like apparel companies, "it can go up to 90%".

The medium has been the focus of attention in Karachi recently, where the Supreme Court ordered the removal of two thirds of the city's OOH inventory which has had the effect of driving up prices for what remains.

Sheikh welcomed the development as "bringing the respect to OOH medium that it deserves" and saw it as an opportunity, since "new OOH media development in Karachi will be more structured and more in line with global media trends – primarily digital".

Brandsynario highlighted other ways in which OOH is developing, including advertising on buildings and roundabouts, and Sheikh noted the potential importance of location.

"OOH is currently the only medium in Pakistan that one can leverage to surgically target specific geographic areas," he said, citing the example of telcos which target their consumers with unique offers for different cities.

Warc estimates that the OOH ad industry in Pakistan was worth PKR2bn in 2015, a 10% rise from the previous year.

Data sourced from Brandsynario; additional content by Warc staff