WOO Asia Forum: Dentsu Boss Ashish Bhasin: Out of Home is on the way to recovery – but must try harder
02 November 2021: Dentsu APAC CEO and India Chairman Ashish Bhasin pulled no punches in an enlightening interview with WOO President Tom Goddard which opened this week’s virtual Asia Forum.
While Bhasin was bullish about the recovery in Asia – although he said it differed markedly country by country – and for the Out of Home medium, he was blunt about the issues still holding OOH back. “So far the medium has not played to its fullest potential,” he said.
The two main issues for Bhasin that are holding OOH back in Asia (and, arguably, the world) are media owner consolidation (the lack of it) and audience measurement. On the latter he said he was still having the same discussions as he had 20 years ago. “You can’t be a proper industry if you can’t be measured.”
On consolidation he said that OOH was finding moving forward difficult, particularly in digital, as the Asian market – China and India especially – was highly fragmented with a consequent lack of investment. Even standard poster sizes were difficult to determine in some markets, he said.
In part he blamed the major global players for this. “What they need to do is partner with national operators so we have a business that’s global and local. So far this hasn’t happened. We’ve seen consolidation on the agency side but not among media owners. There’s too much squabbling.”
“Out of Home is bouncing back strongly from the pandemic but if it’s to compete effectively with digital in the long term then it needs to go more digital too. That can only be achieved by consolidation and longer-term investment.”
On everyone’s agenda at the moment is sustainability. Bhasin said Dentsu was “passionate” about sustainability, moving rapidly to zero carbon. But he acknowledged this was an issue for OOH media too with the need to move rapidly to more eco-friendly methods of printing traditional posters and cleaner energy for digital.