NEW DELHI: The existence of a regulated universal measurement system would significantly boost the Indian outdoor advertising market, according to leading industry figures.

Haresh Nayak, managing director of Posterscope Group India, told Campaign India that most OOH agencies had their own measurement system but a common standard would "add confidence in the media".

An additional complicating factor was highlighted by Mandeep Malhotra, president of DDB MudraMax, who pointed to the low barriers to entry which meant there were many operators in the sector. "In the absence of a universal measuring system, all the measuring systems are successful and unsuccessful at the same time," he said.

Brand owners agreed with this view. "[The] medium is unorganised and is distributed amongst small vendors," observed Harneet Singh Rajpal, vice president of marketing at Dominos Pizza India. He added: "We don't even know if the rate charged to us is justifiable."

But the potential improvements stemming from a universal system are clear. Sanjay Tripathy, head of marketing, products and direct channels at HDFC Life, noted that over the past decade the time spent out of home by an average Indian had increased by 25%.

"So it becomes very important to make your presence felt to the customer and since this space is extremely cluttered, being innovative is what makes a mark in the mind of the customers," Tripathy said.

As the industry awaits a universal measurement currency, one company is hoping to bring greater clarity to the sector with the introduction of Visibility Ratings for individual hoardings based on a wide range of factors.

Harjaap Singh Mann, founder and chief executive of Proof of Performance Data Services, argued that these tools would "bring the much needed measurement and accountability to the industry and it will encourage brands to spend more in OOH media".

One particular area of the OOH sector that is currently experiencing a surge in growth is transport, in part because of the rapid development of urban infrastructure and partly because it is an area that can be effectively measured.

Singh told the Economic Times that it was simple to establish numbers of people visiting airports and railway stations through ticket sales, and that is was possible to "monitor how long a passenger waits on a particular metro rail platform in between two trains".

Measurement is not the only obstacle the sector faces, however, as proliferating billboards in some cities have resulted in a backlash. The chief minister of West Bengal has long fought a campaign against "visual pollution" and recently ordered the removal of 15 Calcutta billboards that obscured her view of the Vidyasagar Setu bridge.

Data sourced from Campaign India, Economic Times, Calcutta Telegraph; additional content by Warc staff