Category Archives: Expert Opinion

What’s up in the world of Digital OOH in SA?

Craig Wallis, Business Unit Manager at The MediaShop offers a snapshot

The South African OOH (out of home) industry never ceases to amaze me with the incredible growth of media types, and its concomitant innovation. There are so many young, and passionate entrepreneurs out there that it bodes well for our country.

Possibly the most noticeable “new” media type is that of digital out of home (DOOH). If truth be told, dealing with all the various media owners that offer DOOH media can be rather daunting for a buyer like me. The reason for this is that the media owners have “skinned the cat” a hundred different ways when it comes to their media offering to prospective advertisers.

In order to get some semblance of understanding of all of these DOOH offerings, I decided to consolidate as many of the media owner’s offerings in order for me to have more of a global view of what’s digital in SA’s OOH industry.

What did I find?

Well, digital screens can be found in many different environments, so I took the liberty of classifying them all into four broad categories:

  1. Place Based Screens – Transit (airports, commuter nodes, taxis, buses, cars, Gautrain and forecourts)
  2. Place Based Screens – Non-Transit (salons, pharmacies, retail stores, clinics, medical rooms, pubs, restaurants and golf clubs)
  3. Roadside Digital Billboards (freeway and main arterial roads)
  4. Malls (screens, video walls and way finders / directory units)

N.B. I have not included sports stadia digital screens in the above.

There are around 50 media owners with Digital OOH platforms and almost 7 000 screens in their inventory. These screens vary in size from massive large format digital billboards to much smaller ones like iPads in Uber cabs. (I wonder what the total capital investment would be for all of these 7 000 screens?!?!)

I also calculated the total media value of all DOOH inventory at Rate Card rate and it came to just under R1.2 billion.

Factoring in varied discount rates, as well as likely annual occupancy levels for each of the above four categories, I calculated that the annual billings of the DOOH industry could be around R500 million. I must add that I feel that this figure is the very top end of possible DOOH spend.

What else did my “magic” Excel spread sheet reveal?

  • Roadside digital screens total around 160 screens which accounted for under 3% of all screens in SA, yet Roadside generates almost 40% of all DOOH media revenue. The reason for this massive variation is due to the fact that these small number of very large screens reach a massively large audience. This means that the media rental that a roadside digital screen can generate is astronomical when compared to that of a screen in a doctor’s waiting room or in a hair salon.
  • Place Based Transit screens comprised roughly 50% of the screens in SA, and they generate around 36% of total media rentals.
  • Place Based Non-Transit screens total about 38% of all screens in SA, and surprisingly generate less than 10% of all media rentals. This is possibly due to the relatively small audience reached per screen (think one screen in a doctor’s waiting room versus one massive screen in a taxi rank).
  • Mall screens on the other hand, comprise 10% of screens in SA, and generate around 16% of the media rentals. This is possibly due to paying a premium to reach top end shoppers at point of purchase.

A further thought came to mind whilst looking at my data and it was that it is fairly easy to compare a digital billboard with a similar static billboard. I wondered what the total media rental would be if I treated the current Roadside digital boards that I have on record as static billboards.

The current Roadside digital sites generate annual media rentals of R200 million (using my calculations, and assumptions as detailed above), however costing them as static billboards, they would only yield about R50 million in media rentals. Interestingly, it looks like converting a billboard from static to digital could increase revenues by at least 400%. Obviously, a large chunk of this revenue needs to fund the massive capital outlay for large format digital screens.

Given that advertisers pay a massive premium to be on digital screens, and the fact that they share it with other advertisers (around six other advertisers per screen) means that DOOH is way more expensive than static billboards. If an advertiser’s creative is not maximising the benefits that DOOH offers, then they could be wasting quite a lot of media spend.

Sadly, I still see many examples of creative that fail to utilise these benefits. Having said that, there are hundreds of examples of poor creative being gleefully posted on static billboards as well, but that in itself is a story for another day…

DOOH is going to keep on growing in SA as it has the world over, so brace yourself as you will find more and more environments becoming “digitised” allowing advertisers to target niche/sought after audiences.

Activations – Beyond the hashtag

In a world saturated with technology, staying close to your consumers is of paramount importance – especially if you want to cut through the clutter, be noticed and be exciting enough for consumers to want to engage and act.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. But if used incorrectly it can damage a brand’s reputation. Campaigns that make use of technology still need the human element, especially campaigns that are tech-heavy. As shiny and exciting as a new tech driven experience is, consumers need to be driven to act and to immerse themselves in the brand world in order to become advocates of a brand. This is where face to face human interaction plays a key role.

As much as consumers enjoy engaging via social media and OOH digital platforms, the human element is vital to successful brand influence. From brand awareness, affiliation and action it all relies on the human factor. This is where activations come into the fray and provide the core impetus to a campaign.

Going forward into the foreseeable future, the hashtag isn’t going to be enough. We need to push for better, further reaching strategies that extend the life of campaigns beyond the hashtag and beyond tech and we need to do this by getting close and getting personal.

The Future

Great experiential marketing strategies will use digital OOH and social media to close distances between brands and consumers. Activations that are human centric need to be highly customizable so that engagement is personalized in order to create authentic relationships between brand and customer. Marketers and brand managers particularly need to constantly ask themselves: does it make sense to put X % of budget into digital or TV or should this rather be allocated to creating experiences?

It’s a new customer journey where the customer is always king – he wants to be treated as such from a brand or risk losing him to a competitor. Consumers expect brands to know them and provide the experiences they want. It goes without saying that consumers who have a great experience with a brand will spend more than a consumer who has had a bad experience.

In a transaction-based business, customer experience drives sales. And, it’s cheaper to have happy customers and brand followers than unhappy ones. In fact, after controlling for other factors that drive repeat purchases (for example, how often the customer needs the type of goods and services), customers who had the best past experiences spent 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.[i]

Activations augment hashtag marketing

Activations augment hashtag marketing and vice versa. Social media as part of an activations campaign can extend the reach of experiences, events and marketing stunts. It serves to broaden the audience and keep them up to date with what a brand is doing. It also creates a FOMO effect, which for brands is a coveted consumer state of mind as it drives sales and affiliation.

The bottom line is this: as more consumers interact with each other and with brands via social media, the more consumers hanker for new tech-driven brand experiences, the more we need to stay human centric.

 

Advantages of Outdoor Advertising over Social Media

If you are a digital marketer who hasn’t considered offline ads in recent memory, you need to give outdoor another look. Enough has changed in the past two years to make it a valid alternative to the crowded social media ad landscape.

Matt O’Connor founder and CEO of AdQuick, a platform that enables brands to buy outdoor advertising gives his views.

Here are the ways in which outdoor has advantages over social media:

  • It’s in the real world, so it’s not prone to click fraud—at least until someone invents bots that drive past billboards or take the bus and subway.
  • It’s super-high-frequency, with significant exposure and traffic. No other medium reaches consumers with the frequency of outdoor advertising. We all know that one billboard or subway ad that greeted you on your commute for months.
  • It reaches more than 90 percent of the population. Not everyone is online—and in particular online at the social media sites you’ve selected for your campaign—but within a community, chances are that almost everyone will see a local billboard or other outdoor campaign in the course of their daily activity.
  • It’s easily shareable on social media, because it’s so visual.
  • Geographic targeting is unmatched: You can select media right down to the longitude and latitude of the community you want.
  • It drives an outsized share of online searches. Out-of-home advertising is the most effective offline medium in driving online activity, according to Nielsen.

How do you make outdoor measurable? There are a variety of ways. Options include:

  • Campaign integration with Google Analytics to measure lift in site traffic by area. This technique has been proven to increase site traffic by more than 40 percent versus controls.
  • Integration with Google AdWords to measure cost per click and click-through rates by area, in order to quantify performance efficiencies in online advertising. As outdoor advertising drives up a company’s awareness, its online ads perform more efficiently.
  • Social media image recognition, an algorithm to scrape social media images to quantify the number of additional impressions using campaign images or tags. We at AdQuick did this for a campaign for Drake’s OVO fashion brand and found $6,000 worth of Instagram shares in one week from one New York billboard.
  • Shortcodes, which are beneficial for transit and pedestrian-focused campaigns. They give any campaign a call to action and make it more engaging, and results are easily measured simply by tracking shortcode usage.
  • Geo-fenced mobile ads to measure engagement rate by area. This technique involves creating and serving ads on smartphones that mirror the message on outdoor advertising. This gives advertisers another way to measure engagement and provides consumers with a way to learn more about a brand’s offering and quantify the boost OOH drives in other channels. This technique can lead to engagement rates that are 30 percent to 50 percent higher in areas with outdoor ads versus controls.
  • Geographic surveys (based on ZIP code), tracking brand awareness and channel attribution in the areas surrounding the outdoor advertising locations.
  • Movement tracking, to quantify the increase in foot traffic an outdoor ad drives to a brick-and-mortar location.

The Critical Role of Out-of-Home in the Marketing Mix.

With almost two-thirds of all consumer purchases made within half an hour of being exposed to Out-of-Home advertising, it’s time to revisit the critical role the medium plays in the broader marketing mix. Roadside Outdoor Audience Data (ROAD) now provides rich data on the consumption and impact of billboards, and integrated with other media stats allows brands to further craft effective, integrated campaigns. OOH should play a key role in this space, argues Howard Lonstein, Marketing Manager for Outdoor Network. 


When it’s possible to map the customer journey in intimate detail (turning on the TV over breakfast, passing billboards driving to work, surfing the web during the lunch hour, paging through a magazine at the dentist, listening to the radio on the way to gym), thanks to social listening tools and other data sources, it’s clear that marketing is entering a new era. Knowing where consumers go, what they pay attention to, what they need and where they shop gives us unique insight into how to reach them, and how we can customise messages to engage them in the most relevant way as they go about their day-to-day business. This makes media placement easier – and it also changes our approach to OOH enormously.

Harvard Business Review says the days of treating advertising touch points as if each works in isolation is long past and marketers should ask themselves which combinations of ad exposures work best to influence customers. Think static OOH doesn’t speak to smartphone-clutching millennials? A recent study of 1 837 smartphone users by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America found that OOH media is especially effective at reaching consumers before they search or shop online, while geo-fencing can work seamlessly with out-of-home formats to target consumers in a particular area. The context within which a consumer is exposed to brand communication becomes even more important as the clutter increases. The right message, at the right time, directed at the right consumer results in greater impact and ultimately in action being taken. Marketing Week has predicted that incorporating cellphone connectivity with OOH will become the norm, not a ‘special’ part of a campaign, and it’s hard to disagree. Remember that a customer can be ‘switched on’ at any time during the consumer journey – even stepping out from work to grab a sandwich.

It would be perverse to ignore the role OOH and impact can play in a campaign. It is commonly accepted now that OOH provides great frequency, which is a key driver in priming awareness for campaigns. This is particularly true in terms of digital platforms which reduce the CTP for the overall campaign, providing greater value for advertisers and brands. It is imperative that brands are exposed to these facts and the benefits that are derived when OOH is part of a broad campaign. It is worth noting that the OOH industry in the US recently reported its seventh consecutive year of revenue growth, with a more than 15% increase in 2016 from the previous year, according to The Outdoor Media Association – this reflects a global trend.  

 

Apple expanded its ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ print ad campaign by displaying 162 photos taken by iPhone 6 users (not professional photographers) on giant billboards in 73 cities across 25 countries, along with a 30-second TV ad and videos. Having photos blown up to billboard size gave a good idea of the power of the product without having to spell it out (less is always more on billboards), plus the scale was an ideal showcase for an ‘art gallery’ of images. OOH amplified Apple’s message and achieved enormous reach – the billboards received 6.5 billion media impressions and 255 million online impressions.

Coca-Cola has always loved multichannel marketing. The 23 000-pound ‘drinkable billboard’ it rolled out shot soda through a straw into a drinking fountain, complementing interactive TV commercials and downloadable coupons available from mall kiosks – in this way, it created a brand experience on a large scale, gaining traction via OOH, experiential, digital, social and broadcast channels. It was also vital in terms of increasing social media engagement.

Big brands know the value of high-impact, in-your-face media, but even smaller brands know that OOH delivers. A recent Posterscope US study showed that you can increase reach by as much as 303% if you add billboards to a mobile app and web campaign. Adding OOH to internet ads increases retention by two days, according to research conducted by Brand Science. A billboard can drive online research about a product and lead to online purchases, for example. In South Africa, radio and TV are hugely popular, but younger generations demand a brand experience that talks to them across different channels (and less traditional channels) – something that media planners need to take into account. The Brand Science study shows that ad retention of media one week after seeing an ad is 55% for OOH as against 49% for print and 35% for radio – and 58% of people report consciously looking at OOH ads, which is a higher rate of engagement than other forms of advertising can provide.

Seamlessly integrating OOH into your campaign can help to drive campaign objectives. OOH is a crucial touchpoint because it is so good at engaging with consumers in a way that builds relationships with brands; in fact, when used alongside above-the-line advertising, OOH has been found to play a crucial role in long-term brand-building. By leverage OOH in your campaign, you can reach more people more often, target the consumers most likely to be interested in your brand, drive consumer action, and optimise reach and frequency at a relatively low cost. All this points to a high return on investment, which is a prime consideration in today’s tough market.