The need for a strong out of home advertising industry association has never been greater for players operating in the sector. A collective body is able to effectively manage consumer and community backlash; lobby governmental policies and intervene where necessary; ensure market research is robust through the allocation of seats on research councils like the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) and; have a general presence should related industry concerns arise.
“A strong industry body can contribute significantly to the growth of our medium. For instance, an association can sway or revise policies. There is the well-known example of how FEPE – the international out of home advertising body – convinced Bulgarian authorities to halt its blanket ban on outdoor advertising. This intervention is precisely the reason collective bodies are crucial,” said Billy Basson, Out of Home Media South Africa (OHMSA) acting chairman.
He noted that OHMSA, as the officially-recognised out of home association in South Africa, has opportunities to sit on important industry boards, such as SAARF. The importance of a research levy collection method is also the domain of OHMSA’s. This is significantly beneficial to OHMSA’s members who aim to increase profits through robust research data and prove to media buyers and planners the weight of the medium in comparison to other media types.
OHMSA is also able to assist members in consumer and community-related matters. Often environmental concerns are raised in connection with out of home advertising. Yet, the industry body has a strict code of ethics related to the cutting down of trees and shrubs. OHMSA intervenes where necessary.
“All companies operating in the space have similar concerns – whether they are regulatory, legal, or market share related. Even though we may be competitors in a sense, we must also have a united front in order to resolve big issues effectively and swiftly,” noted Basson.
He added that OHMSA has made strides in growing its membership base by opening it up to associate stakeholders such as media buyers, planners, strategists, advertising agencies, poster-buying specialists, landlords, marketers, suppliers and other industry bodies.
“Our enlargened membership base has enabled us to have greater say and representation in many social, economic and political issues.”
At present, OHMSA is negotiating with the Department of Trade and Industry to be officially recognised by them as the only out of home media association in South Africa.