THE REAL POTENTIAL FOR SMART CITIES AND DIGITAL OOH

I can’t say I’ve been all the enthralled by what I’ve seen so far with smart cities initiatives that involve digital out of home media companies. For the most part, they’re just digital posters with some wifi and maybe some sensors tossed in so the things can be called “smart.”

Those things exist to run ads, and the “smart” thing is largely a veneer to get the ad concession, and for city governments to get free stuff that purports to make their burg seem somehow innovative.

BUT … there’s a lot of potential there, and when you talk to someone who spends all his time thinking about and working on smart city initiatives, you learn there are some good things happening not only with broader smart initiatives, but also with efforts that DO involve media companies.

I wrote a mildly snarky piece recently about this stuff, and Gordon Feller sent me a note suggesting I have a look at a report he did for the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. He’s a longtime Silicon Valley tech exec and founder of Meeting Of The Minds, a non-profit public-private partnership that’s all about creating smarter cities.

We had a frank talk about what’s happened to date, where it really works, and what he sees as the vast potential for smart cities that work with media companies and digital signage technologies.

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.

How SBE helped change the Absa brand, in 10 days.

While there’s been much debate about Absa bank’s new logo, the actual task of rolling out the bank’s vision across hundreds of OOH sites had print solutions companies and their partners burning oil day and night. Solethu Brand Engineers (SBE) gives some insights into what it takes to help change a brand in 10 days.

“A project of this magnitude is split over various service providers,” says MD, Robyn Fischer. “Our part was to supply PVC, mesh and other materials for a rollout to a variety of sites in Gauteng and surrounding areas.”

Ink, hours and caffeine

One of the Absa OOH pieces

The story unfolds…

To successfully project manage] the flow of various artworks from agencies to the creation of the final products (ready for installation) one requires significant experience and capabilities – not only in the available type of facility, machinery and materials but, also and most critically, scalability and skill set of people-power to see it through.

“The Absa job required nearly 10 days of round-the-clock work from the SBE team,” says Fischer. “In producing billboards and other iconic OOH sites we used significant volumes of ink, 30 rugby fields of material, over 4 000 production hours and burned through countless cups of coffee – the job required all hands on deck without affecting our other projects . . .

I am thankful to the SBE team and our partners for helping us successfully complete all work over this time.”

Getting things done

With its new logo and brand rollout, Absa is hoping to express a new identity as an entrepreneurial, digitally-led bank with deep knowledge of African markets (with global scalability) . . . with Africanacity their “bespoke” word that “embodies the distinctly African ability to always find a way to get things done.”

“We echo that sentiment,” says Fischer. “From SBEs perspective we’ve always considered ourselves a company that innovates by nature and delivers on-point – whatever (and wherever) it is needed.

Big or small we aim to provide our clients with the same type of service and drive to deliver a fulfilling, superior, customer experience.

It was exciting (and challenging) working on the Absa bank OOH rollout project – certainly we hope our efforts in some way mirrors their message that, ‘while we are a continent with immense challenges, we are also one with tremendous tenacity, soul and a sense of togetherness.’”


SBE is a BBBEE Level 2 company specialising in digital print and branding innovations.

Alibaba invests $1.43bn in digital screen company Focus Media

Alibaba has acquired a minority stake in Chinese digital advertising company Focus Media for $1.43bn. Alibaba’s investment will give the e-commerce giant a 6.62% share of the Shanghai based business which owns digital advertising screens in 300 Chinese cities and claims to reach 200 million consumers.

The online retailer will also purchase a 10% stake in an entity which controls 23.34% of Focus Media. New Retail Strategic Opportunities Fund, which is described as a “non-consolidated, related party of Alibaba”, will also acquire a 1.37% interest in Focus Media, bringing Alibaba’s total investment to $2.23bn which gives the company a 10.34% stake.

Alibaba said it plans to acquire another 5% interest in Focus Media within the next 12 months, according to Alizila.

Focus Media will use the investment to help it grow its reach to include five million terminals in 500 Chinese cities in a bid to connect with 500 million consumers.

The acquisition aims to further bolster Alibaba’s New Retail strategy, which integrates online and offline retail to create a seamless commerce experience for consumers.

The deal will also enable Alibaba’s digital-marketing platform, Alimama to partner with Focus Media to offer brands new digital channels to promote their products. It will also bolster Alibaba’s consumer analytics tool, Uni Marketing, which enables brands to identify, target, reach and retain their customers across Alibaba’s ecosystem of e-commerce and media sites.

Alibaba and Focus Media will work together to create ‘New Marketing’ which will provide brands with a way to merge offline media, digital marketing and New Retail.

 

Leo Burnett, British Dyslexia Association create a moment of collective dyslexia

To encourage a more dyslexic-friendly society, Leo Burnett London and The British Dyslexia Association are using facial detection technology on Ocean’s DOOH screens to give everyone an idea what it’s like to live with dyslexia.

One in every 10 people in the UK has some level of dyslexia, affecting their memory, personal organisation or literacy, but not their capability to succeed.

To encourage a more dyslexic-friendly society, Leo Burnett London and The British Dyslexia Association are using facial detection technology on Ocean’s DOOH screens to give everyone an idea what it’s like to live with dyslexia.

Created by Leo Burnett London for the Association, ‘A Moment of Dyslexia’ was awarded the Charity first prize in Ocean’s annual digital creative competition which celebrates bold ideas which push the boundaries of DOOH. The campaign runs for two days on July 16 and 17 on The Loop in Birmingham and on Ocean’s Eat Street screen at Westfield London.

Leo Burnett London has created dynamic long form copy for the screens which is triggered by Look Out, Ocean’s audience detection technology. This can measure audience attention time as people stop to read the text.

The longer people look at the screens, the more jumbled the words and letters become, reflecting what it can be like to be dyslexic.

Lewis Beaton, creative at Leo Burnett said: “The BDA and Ocean have both been fantastic to work with. We’re excited to see the work go live and hopeful that we can make people think differently, and nudge employers to find ways to make their workplaces more dyslexia friendly.”

Ocean head of marketing Helen Haines said: “This simple campaign captures perfectly the dynamic capability of digital out of home and how DOOH screens can respond to and engage with people in the moment. On this occasion, the combination of technology and location with long form copy which you don’t normally find on large format screens demonstrates the power of the right message in the right place at the right time.”

British Airways converses with Consumers via Airport Ads’ Visionet

British Airways is showcasing it’s unique offering via Airport Ads’® highly visible Visionet™ digital billboard at King Shaka International Airport.

The large-format Visionet™ digital billboard is located in the bustling domestic departures area at King Shaka International Airport, offering prime real estate for advertisers wanting to communicate with a highly desirable upper LSM market.

With close to half a million passengers passing through the airport each month, the digital billboard offers the perfect platform for the advertising of luxury brands, services and products that would be of interest to the leisure and business traveller market.

In line with global trends, advertising in the airport environment has become a key element within the marketing mix aimed at the upper income bracket.  And, concurrent with other OOH environments, Digital Out of Home (DOOH) has become increasingly popular within airport precincts. The global trend towards making use of this highly effective advertising medium points to its relevance and immediacy. It reaches travellers poised to engage with, and purchase, products and services that are significant to their lifestyle.

OOH is a poster boy for data and digital

 Out-of-home advertising is enjoying a renaissance in many markets, as its newfound versatility, driven by data and digital, demands planners reconsider its role on their media plan, an industry figure says.

In a WARC Best Practice paper, How to plan an effective outdoor campaign, Tony Regan, a partner in Work Research and a founder of Brand Performance, outlines how out-of-home (OOH) is evolving rapidly as digital out-of-home (DOOH) enables new opportunities.

Sometimes described as “the last broadcast medium” targeting people on the move, OOH offers broad and fast national or near-national reach, second only to TV, but advanced measurement techniques now means more specific audiences can also be targeted as well.

Regan highlights the UK’s Route tool – the methodology is being exported to other OOH markets – which enables planners to build campaigns based on the audience characteristics of individual poster sites, creating a shift away from planning and buying standardised packages.

Instead of simply buying ‘ABC1 men’, they can now access audiences such as ‘people who fly long-haul for business’ and via Route’s data source they can access that audience not just at airports but in a wide variety of locations across the city and even in commuter dormitory towns.

And when DOOH is added into the mix, especially smaller format DOOH panels, planners can devise proximity or location-specific activations in conjunction with mobile devices.

“Geo-fenced mobile targeting is now an established technique, but it best extends OOH campaigns where consumers have a high dwell-time and are likely to be active on their smartphones – such as shopping malls, airports and train stations,” Regan advises.

Managing DOOH adds further levels of intricacy to what was already a complex process, but it also allows OOH to evolve from a planned, pre-structured medium to one with greater flexibility, buying media by day-part, for example, or dependent on the weather.

“As digital inventory builds up across formats and locations, planners can give digital OOH a hard-working role on the plan, not just treat it as icing on the cake,” he says.

“Smart planners use digital OOH in shorter bursts to amplify campaigns where volume of impacts is primarily delivered by physical formats.”

The resurgence of OOH is also being helped by new campaign management platforms which are making OOH buying easier, but “the notion of programmatic trading of DOOH across multiple owner inventories remains some way off,” Regan notes.

Debonairs train station campaign generates awareness

To generate brand awareness and ensure that millions of commuters know about Debonairs Pizza specials, Transit Ads™ has implemented a strategic OOH campaign – which is part of a broader commuter strategy developed by the MediaShop – in various Metrorail stations across South Africa.

For 12 months, consumers will be exposed to large format, sharp, colourful imagery of freshly made Debonairs pizza and the special offer messaging of ‘Real Deal from R21.90 each’. The creative is featured on strategically placed billboards in Berea Station, Durban Station, Cape Town Station, Park Station, Orlando Station, Germiston Station and Pretoria Station. Each station enjoys high traffic footfall, high frequency and long dwell times.

Shamy Naidu, Executive: Transit Ads™ explains, “The Debonairs campaign is effective because it targets consumers as they leave for work, but also as they arrive home when it is close to dinner time. Most Debonairs outlets are less than 5km from the stations and the mouth-watering creative keeps the product top of mind.”

Train Station branding has become a highly sought after advertising medium as it reaches a large consumer audience with excellent frequency, and delivers exceptional results. The national year-long campaign for Debonairs Pizza is set to raise the brand’s profile above its competitors, enhance brand loyalty and keep it top of mind when making a purchasing decision.

Every day, train stations experience a high footfall of commuters and offer high dwell times and brand visibility that translate to positive brand and messaging recall. Over a million commuters choose trains as their preferred mode of transport and this is increasing consistently along with the expansion and upgrading of infrastructure.

Train Stations have also evolved into major intermodal transit hubs where train, bus and taxi meet. Many of the country’s stations also boast excellent retail, which attracts not only commuters but other consumers looking to shop, do banking or grab a bite to eat.

The rail environment is captive, there are high dwell times with an average of 21 minutes, and there is excellent frequency with 79% of train commuters travelling twice daily.

ALLIANCE MEDIA MOZAMBIQUEAWARDED FOR EXCELLENCE IN OOH.

Alliance Media Mozambique is honoured to have been awarded the PMR (Professional Management Review) Golden Arrow Award. This year’s award was recently given at the award ceremony at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Maputo Mozambique.

The Alliance Media Mozambique team has been truly committed to Outdoor and Airport advertising in Mozambique, and the award further solidifies Alliance Media’s position as the leader in OOH in Mozambique.

The PMR awards are awarded through an independent survey. The ratings are sourced from top decision makers to identify leaders in all major industries who contribute to economic growth and development.

Alliance Media is Africa’s largest outdoor advertising company, operating over 25,000 advertising sites in 23 African countries. The company is also the largest airport advertising concession holder in Africa, having more airports under management than any other company.

For more information about how Alliance Media grows brands in Mozambique

JCDECAUX LAUNCHES GLOBAL AUTOMATED PLANNING AND TRADING PLATFORM

JCDecaux has announced the launch of VIOOH – a global independent automated planning and trading platform designed to accelerate growth of Out-of-Home (OOH) and connect the industry to the programmatic digital ecosystem. The capital of VIOOH – pronounced View – is currently owned 93.5% by JCDecaux and 6.5% by Veltys, a data specialist and modelling company.

VIOOH’s purpose is to grow OOH advertising spend globally by offering an integrated platform to provide automation and offer programmatic trading for media sellers and buyers. While Digital OOH is expected to be the second fastest growing medium between 2017 and 2020, the platform will strengthen JCDecaux’s capacity to meet the new expectations of its clients, brands and agencies, and enlarge the Group ecosystem.

JCDecaux is convinced that OOH can compete with digital advertising (mobile, search, display …) by transforming its whole offering through optimised campaigns using data and technology. This is why the Group decided to create VIOOH organically on a worldwide footprint and to open it to OOH media owners.

VIOOH has developed a best-in-class planning and trading platform for the OOH industry. The platform has been in development for over 2 years, and provides a full stack for automated trading, data management, content serving and ad exchange functionality. The new business is based in London and VIOOH already employs a team of over 65 developers, coders, commercial and support staff. VIOOH is able to incorporate many data sources and relies on machine learning algorithms to improve the targeting and the effectiveness of the advertising campaigns. OOH being by nature a “one to many” media, VIOOH is almost natively GDPR compliant and therefore will always comply strictly with personal data protection rules to safeguard citizens and users.

Starting in the UK and the USA, the platform will soon be deployed in Belgium, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Singapore, Dubai, Norway and the Netherlands among other markets.