The out of home advertising industry faces many challenges. Complex legislative issues from town to town, city to city; a lack of research to back the sector’s claims of effectiveness; no tools to compare the out of home sector’s efficacy to television, the print media or radio; a perception by some that perhaps out of home is the Cinderella of the advertising world.
It’s this world that the newly appointed CEO of the industry body, Out of Home Media South Africa (OHMSA), Melissa Moore, has just taken on. Not that the challenges faze her in any way; in fact, the woman who trained as communications and media lawyer is looking forward to leading the charge in sorting out the industry’s issues.
“I want to bring roleplayers in the sector together,” she says. “We need an industry-wide strategy. We must set goals, open up debate on the issues affecting us. OHMSA is an industry body so we need to work together and consult with each other to achieve what we need to as an industry.”
Number one on her list of priorities is to undertake an investigation of the legislative environment. “We want to pursue an investigation into the by-laws and regulations affecting the industry. The current shortcomings are that they differ in the provinces and that they are arbitrarily applied.”
Cape Town, for example, is notoriously tricky when it comes to giving permission for out door advertising. “Cape Town is a Big Issue,” said Moore. “We will be liaising directly with the city council on this one. Altogether, the whole investigation is going to be a mammoth task.”
As such, who will she trust to take it on? “As a lawyer, I’m going to do it myself,” Moore said. “The investigation will come first, and then the strategy on how to deal with whatever we find.
“But I’ll use a number of different mechanisms in the process, from networking and building stakeholder relationships and building capacity. Then we’ll need to get other legal opinions; in some cases, litigation might form part of the process.
“Legislation has to be enforced, so that means from our side too. Illegal outdoor advertising has to stop and the decision-makers held accountable.”
As if that wasn’t all enough, there’s the other big issue: the development and research of amethodology, which will for the first time, give media planners an effective reach and frequency planning tool. The South African Advertising Research Foundation has issued a tender to find an agency up to handling the task in an independent and transparent way.
“The tender process is still ongoing,” said Mooer. “I believe media owners are the beneficiaries of such research. We have to give planners the tools effectively. Know what sells, what doesn’t. This research will also be crucial in ensuring out of home is placed on a par with other media, such as television, print and radio. There is definitely space for research in this sector.”
Moore said that according to AdIndex, “South Africa’s out of home revenue is decreasing but in real terms, revenue is increasing. These discrepancies add to the confusing picture. Of course, much depends on members of OHMSA and non-to submit accurate figures in the submissions.”
Moore’s “passion” is the freedom of speech. She spent time as the acting director of the Freedom of Expression Institute and studying the subject even further. She’s off to Budapest on a course shortly.
In the meantime, she’s looking forward to her first OH! Awards as CEO of OHMSA, that take place next week on May 19. And she won’t be drawn on telling TheMediaOnline which outdoor ads have caught her eye recently, giving us a diplomatic response: “That just wouldn’t be fair to our members!”