A doyenne of out of home media, who, with her partner Debbie Lea, sold Airport Media to Avusa late last year, Suzanne Styles understands the challenging aspects of this media environment. Nevertheless, Styles is concerned that people in the sector are allowing external factors to stifle their thinking and creativity with a pall of gloom and doom. Here, she exhorts the industry to catch a wake up!
The New Year has come and any bubble of optimism that we might have experienced seems to have been comprehensively burst as we continue to embrace with open arms the dire state of the global economy. Headlines rife with conspiracy theories about the end of Europe, America, and maybe the world, if the Mayans are right, dominates communications of the average South African. Everywhere we look, the trend spotters predict a continued downward spiral to economic meltdown for us all.
Why the dark love affair with this depression? Where has the South African spirit of “we’ll make a plan” gone? Where are my pioneering colleagues in the Out of Home Media (OOH) Industry when the industry needs them most?
I tire of reading about what percentage of outdoor media sites were vacant last year, and that this person, and that one predicts that it will continue on this trend this year. It’s time to wake up and get over ourselves. Get over the non-event of FIFA 2010 in terms of sparkling returns for the OOH industry and the subsequent post event depressions. Get over who’s put up what illegal board where, and which Council is forcing the removal of boards where, and start finding the excitement again.
We need to start thinking into results that will grow our share of voice, increase occupancy and make agencies and clients want their OOH campaign, not just need it as part of the mix. While we languish in our depression, someone is eating our lunch and our share of the pie is decreasing.
How do we compete with other media for share of spend? Personally I think we should stop competing and start creating: creating options, and flexibility for advertisers while going back to basics, the fundamentals of what has always made OOH work as a medium. We need to create our own economy in our minds and go out to market confident that we have a product that works, is attractive and affordable and stop going cap in hand with a begging bowl looking for and accepting scraps off the table.
Smaller media owners will find ways to get their sites sold, and let this be a lesson to us all; we need to feel the hunger of the challenges we face in getting our share of spend, and not despair! Let’s get the sales teams’ attitudes aligned to the success of our medium and get them to believe in it again. The effect of Praxis will swing the share of spend our way.
OOH should be the most desired medium, and if we’re not greedy, it could be so in a short space of time. Print, TV and radio have their own limitations. I can’t remember when I watched a programme that I didn’t record on the PVR so I can fast forward through the plethora of ads between scenes. Can you?
Radio personalities change, as do our appetites for them, and I can’t recall – with the exception of my holiday – when I last had the time to read a magazine. But, the one thing that you can still rely on to happen every day is that some time, somewhere, we’ll be stuck in rush hour traffic, giving us the time to read a billboard.
Remember: OOH is the Cinderella of the media world and not her ugly sisters.